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International Research Centre for Archaeology Brijuni – Medulin HR – 52100 Pula, Carrarina 5 E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PATHS OF ANCIENT GODS IN ROMAN ISTRIA
Content: I. THE ANCIENT DEITIES IN ISTRIA 1. Ancient cults in Istria on the border between East and West 2. Autochthonous (Histro-Liburnian) deities 3. Illyrian-Roman cults 4. Ancient deities between paganism and Christianity
THE ANCIENT DEITIES IN ISTRIA
1. Ancient cults of Istria on the border between East and West Considering the markedly heart-shaped Istrian peninsula as a geomorphology unit deeply immersed in northern Adriatic, one can not help feeling that it was precisely the sea and the maritime paths that played a major role in connecting Istria with the Mediterranean area and its peoples. The Učka and the Ćićarija massifs stretching horizontally in the northern, inland part of the peninsula, have always figured as natural shelters protecting Istria from the intrusions of other ethnic groups and direct continental cultural influences. It is for this reason that prehistoric incursions of the northern tribes and barbaric invasions from the north during the late antiquity had never been as intensive and destructive as the ones in the Venice area and the Padanic plain. All civilizational and cultural phenomena from the oldest sixth-century BC Archaic and Etruscan times to the Roman conquest in the second century BC and the incursion of the Avaro-Slavic people by the end of the sixth century AD, had indirect and relative impact on the Istrian peninsula (Jurkić, V., 1987, 65 – 80).
A marked Greek-Hellenistic influence could have already been observed in protohistoric times in the coastal area and the basins of inland Istria, spread through wellestablished maritime mercantile paths and frequent voluntary contacts or plundering incursions in deep Istrian inlets and sheltered bays followed by natural basins in their hinterlands. Inlets and bays have always figured as points of junction and diffusion of influences, as did, it is believed, the quay of Nesactium, which was under strong Greek and Hellenistic influence (Kozličić, M., 1996, 31 – 46; Zaninović, M., 2005, 127-131), the Pula bay which according to the legend on Argonauts had been crucial in foundation of the classical Pula as a settlement of the acropolis type in protohistoric period (Džin, K., 2007, 15, 29, cat. no. 55-57) and the so called Limski kanal, the Lim ‘Channel’ – a bay deeply penetrating into the land (Kozličić, M., 1986, 135-186), whose natural basin facilitated the diffusion of Greek and Hellenistic influence all the way till Kringa and Beram (Amoroso, A., 1885, 53 et seq.) in central Istria (Mihovilić, K., 1996, 7-64). The western coast of Istria is especially interesting in regards to this matter (Kozličić, M., 1990, 17 et seq.; Zaninović, M., 2005, 115-127); in the wider Poreč area, in Picugi (Amoroso, A., 1889, 225 et seq.; Moretti, M., 1983, 153 et seq.) . Greek and Apulian influences merged with Etruscan and Veneto (Este) cultures from northeastern Italy (Mihovilić, K., 1988, 22-28). The northern and central Istria, including the Labin and the Plomin areas, although facing the classical Osor on the island of Cres, connected with the legend of Medea, Jason and Apsyrtus (Nava, M.L., 1972, 21-31; Braccesi, L., 1977, passim; Zaninović, M., 1989, 129-131), according to the present findings and knowledge, had never been under significant influence of the widely spread Greek-Hellenistic culture of the time. It was precisely the recent results of scientific research of the material and spiritual culture from the aforementioned Istrian localities that have brought us to an understanding of a significant Etruscan influence (Colonna, G., 1980, 177 et seq.; Mihovilić, K., 1988, 23-28) exerted in the formation of the distinctive artistic expression in the plastic and the applied arts and other artefacts of the Histri from the eighth until the fourth centuries BC. Within the context of the research of the spiritual culture of the Histris, in view of the last findings of classical sculpture and post-Histric Roman inscriptions found in Istria based on a thorough analysis of their provenance, representation and geographic diffusion, some general aspects of the immaterial culture in terms of visual arts and other ways of artistic expression on the
Istrian soil during the period from the sixth century BC to the fourth century AD can be determined (Mladin, J., 1966, 5-77; Kukoč, S., 1987, 75 et seq.; Fischer, J., 1984, 9 et seq.). Two well-known sculptures of great significance have been found in Nesactium, on the Istrian east coast; the sculpture of the Great Mother ( Magna Mater) giving birth (Puschi, A., 1905, 50-53; Mladin, J., 1966, 28-129) and the Twin Head (Gnirs, A., 1915, 147-149; Gnirs, A., 1925, 123, fig. 75; Jurkić, V., 1985, 279; Kovač, L., 1992, 44 et seq.). In the context of their visual and stylistic determination, and according to their formal and iconographic features, two different style-related and spiritual moments can be discerned, both of them undoubtedly determined by the deep-rooted autochthonous tradition. The Magna Mater from Nesactium, the essential fertility cult of the Mother of all gods, is a unique prehistoric naturalistic stone sculpture, unmatched in the history of art, of a female giving birth and breastfeeding. It originated under the influence of the authentic primordial autochthonous preIllyrian tradition, and the common Mediterranean mythical and spiritual trends which extended far beyond the Mediterranean area. Nevertheless, its fusion with the male itifalic deity, a symbol of fertilization and male supremacy, perhaps even identification with the cult of the so called ‘Thracian horseman’ imported from the Near East but also from the Italic coastal area, suggests the existence of almost uninterrupted trade and cultural contacts and paths between the Black Sea and the Istrian bays of Budava and Pula (Batović, Š., 1976, 11 et seq; Jurkić, V., 1972, 41-76; Jurkić, V., 1978 a, 37-44). Is it not the tradition immortalized in the myth of Jason and Medea that which connects Pula with the “city of refugees” (Križman, M., 45-58; Jurkić, V., 1984, 25-52)? The Twin Head from Nesactium might have been modelled on the image of the Italic deity Ianus Bifrons (Janus Bifrons) which appears on the bronze As in the fourth century BC already. Ianus Pater (Janus the Father) from the Labin (Albona) area is mentioned on a large fragment of the votive altar, in its inscription recorded by Pietro Kandler: [---]cronus Iano patri v(otum) s(olvit) (Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 10072; Corelli, M., 1937, no. 32; Jurkić, V., 1990, 448) from the first century AD. Considering its name and the similarity of the cult of Janus as the god of the beginning of all things represented by the twin-faced head and the symbols of the key and the door, maybe this autochthonous cult bears some similarities with the Twin Head from Nesactium, especially since there is no figural representation of a deity on the altar itself (Jurkić, V., 2006, 136). The stone head from Nesactium has one of its two faces adorned with the classical ‘Archaic smile’, a defining
feature of the Kouros and Kore from the Acropolis of Athens and of the Etruscan statue of the Apollo from Vei. All the aforementioned suggests strong Etruscan and Greek/Archaic influences merging within the autochthonous material and immaterial culture of Istria, on the border between East and West (Mihovilić, K., 1988, 22-26; Kovač, L., 1994, 44 et seq.). Istrian prehistoric sculptures were carved in local limestone and not modelled in terracota, the latter being characteristic of the Apennine peninsula and Greece in the sixth and fifth centuries BC. The form itself as well as the phenomenon of mutual profusion of cults clearly indicates that the important, and maybe the sole, influence had been achieved through mercantile and cultural contacts, by means of exchange of material goods and ideas, reflecting itself in the spiritual culture of the autochthonous Istrian people in meticulous details. The expansion of Roman dominance and the Roman conquest of Istria in the second century BC resulted in the establishment of the overland communications between the south and the north and gradual alteration of civilizational influence exerted over autochthonous people. Nevertheless, the deep-rooted principles of material and immaterial culture established before the arrival of the Romans continued to exist for a long time, regardless of ethnic and moral changes. Research of the remains of the material culture of classical antiquity in Istria, mostly necropolises in the Pula ager (Ager Polensis, especially the Nesactium circle), the ones in the Buzet area (Fontana) and Roč (Pintorija), and the ones in Kringa near Pazin and Burle near Medulin, clearly indicate that during the first century BC the burials were performed according to the classical Roman burial custom of incineration. The burial gifts found in such incineration graves reflect the religious and social status of the dead as well as he ethnic structure of a given community and population of the Roman Istria. Connections with both East and West are obvious. The glassware found in the graves (plates, glasses, bottles, balsamaria, lacrimaria, amber and golden ornaments) are Oriental imports from Syria and Egypt, but also derive from the renown workshops of the Aquileian circle; earthenware (lamps, vessels, plates) are an Italian import, later imported from North Africa. For the most part, Istria maintained maritime connections with the rest of the world, although there were also established overland communications with northern and nortwestern Europe. Trails of these mercantile travel routes of Istrian amphoras filled up with oil and wine can be found even in Austria (Magdalensberg) (Egger, R., 1963, 93; Egger, R., 1966, 454: Egger R., 1969. 365; Egger, R., 1969a, 410-416; Baldacci, P., 1968, 36; Jurkić, V., 1985a, 54-96).
The study of the history of Pula during the period of classical antiquity reveals an interesting phenomenon: according to registered names preserved on various inscriptions, inhabitants of Oriental origins made 60% of population, who were exercising various economic, commercial, administrative, and sacerdotal duties and honours. The number of Italics and of Romanized Histri performing the aforementioned duties was very scarce in Pula and its wider area, but very significant (80%) in northern Istria and the Liburnian Plomin (Flanona) and Labin (Albona) areas. The Parentine ager had an equal ratio of representation of ethnic groups in different social structures, which gives an accurate picture of the mutual permeation of ethnic and spiritual components (Zaninović, M., 1991, 71-88). In the analysis of the everyday life of the Roman Pula inhabitants, especially of their artistic and architectural achievements, there is a marked predominance of the Hellenistic influence over the Italic one during the course of the first century, with a few autochthonous cases of syncretism (Džin, K., 1997, 93 et seq.; Džin, K., 1998, 139-146). There is an almost identical situation in the Pula ager in regards to the spiritual matters where we register an obvious predominance of the Italic cult (Tellus, Bona Dea). Pure Roman cults were very rare; they appear in their syncretist versions as Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Iuppiter Optimus Maximus), Jupiter Depulsor (Iuppiter Depulsor), Jupiter Amon (Iuppiter Amon), Venus Caelestis, Minerva Pollatica; they all coexisted with the reverence of the cult of the Dioscuri, Achelous, Isis Fortuna, the Great Mother ( Magna Mater), Attis, Hera (Haera), Hercules, Mithras and Sol. Hercules was the patron of the colony of Pula ( Colonia Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea). With such a great number of Oriental deities having been worshipped on the territory of the Pula ager since the second century BC, in accordance with the known Roman religious tolerance, it is very important to notice they existed side by side with a great number of autochthonous cults and deities venerated by the Histri and the Liburnians on the wider Istrian area. In the Pula ager, from Pula to Dvigrad, we find the deep-rooted worship of Eia, of Sentona - as the most common goddess of the Liburnians, and of the famous Ica. However, there are also the especially important deities Terra Histria, Boria, Trita and Nebres. The worship of Terra Histria is registered in the Parentine ager, having strong predominance over other autochthonous deities of a much lesser importance, excluding the syncretised Minerva Flanatica. On the Istrian east coast there was a strong predominance of cults of the female deities Sentona, Aitica, Iutossica, Iria Venus and Ica, which are not to be found in northern and central Istria (Jurkić, V., 1972a, 209-223; Jurkić, V., 1974, 7-33; Jurkić, V., 205, 37-47).
According to all available data on the subject, the Istrian territory, especially its southern part, during the period of the Roman rule was not so much under the influence of Aquileia and the wider Veneto region as it was affected by a strong Histric tradition founded and nurtured on the hill-fort settlements’ culture, radially emanating the influence of its tradition from the post-Histric Nesactium. Autochthonous deities of the household lararia of Nesactium and Pula did not allow a thorough spiritual and religious Romanization of the said settlements and their appropriate areas; worship of autochthonous cults whose adherents were mainly of Oriental origin coexisted with a number of cults imported from Orient which were accepted by the natives. Such Greek-Oriental religious influences started their significant diffusion on the Istrian soil especially after the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and have remained present until the late antique period and the emergence of Christianity (Jurkić, V., 1979b, 208217; Jurkić, V., 1999, 31-46; Jurkić, V., 2005, 55-56). The Hellenistic influence in Pula during the period of classical antiquity is evidenced by architectural heritage; the sepulchral and the memorial concept and realization of the Sergii Arch shows distinctive traits of classical Hellenistic art which can be observed in the exceptional elegance of its structure and its floral decoration and animal and human representations (Džin, K., 1991, 11.32). Such influence of the classical habits of life was also reflected on the architecture of the two Roman theatres in Pula, their adornment with Greek marble and with various motifs of theatrical masks and ionic volutes (Mlakar, Š., 1979, 133139; Manasse G.C., 1978, 127-162). After all, the architectural conception of the amphitheatre in Pula bears some basic similarities with the two theatres: this magnificent edifice has its southeastern staircase-like seats cut into (or reclining on) the slope of the hill, while the southwestern foundations are the bases of the whole architectural substructure from the Augustan time. It was precisely because of such architectural solution that the amphitheatre in Pula has been often regarded as classical theatre in the medieval literature. Although it was the configuration of the terrain which dictated its building, it is precisely the experience of the classical architectural tradition which made the Roman architects make use of the hill slope and apply the construction concept of a theatre to an amphitheatre instead of erecting it on a flat field (like, for example, Campus Martius), which is conceptually and in terms of execution best suited for erection of a typical Roman amphitheatre. In such an amphitheatre, conceptually verging between Hellenistic and Roman architectural models, a clash of spiritual and religious took place by being the place of worship of syncretist cults
permeated with both autochthonous and Roman morality and religion, and by confronting the antagonistic polytheism and Christianity through (in)famous bloody martyrdoms (Stanković, P., 1822, 16 et seq.; Mirabella Roberti, M., 1943, 6; Mlakar, Š., 1957a, 5 et seq.: Jurkić, V., 2003, 9 et seq.). While observing the significance of the autochthonous elements in spiritual and material culture from the prehistoric era to the period of the Roman domination in Istria, and the influences spread through maritime and overland communications, regarding the propitious geo-historical position of Istria between the East and the West, we gain a deeper insight into the important features of stability on the Istrian soil so often spared of wars and military conflicts which have been ravaging for centuries on its wider area. In spite of a strong Hellenization in prehistoric and protohistoric era, Istria managed to retain its autochthonous tradition for a long time, reflected in the artistic expression through stone sculptures and ornamental elements, but also through a strong tradition of religious beliefs, retention of cults and its distinctive modus vivendi until the late years of Roman rule and the rise of Christianity in the southern and western regions of the peninsula. Such autochthonous traditions were also preserved in central and northern Istria, especially in the burial custom of laying the deceased directly in the grave, without use of cinerary glass urns ( ollae cinerariae) or ceramic and stone urns, and in the known names of the Romanized Histri such as Voltimesis, Opla, Petala, Petalikus, Hostia, Melosocus, Megaplinus or in toponims: Nugla, Albona, Flanona, etc. (Jurkić, V., 1979a, 208-217; Rendić-Miočević, D., 1981, 67-76; Jurkić, V., 1983, 7-24, Jurkić, V., 1983b, 7-17). Influences from the northern Alpine circle and the Danube region spreading through the Postojna pass in Roman time were very weak, especially in the domain of material culture. From the Battle of Actium in 31 BC to Hadrian's time in the second century AD, Istria has been submitted to a growing Oriental influence either brought by the Roman newcomers or diffused through import of material culture. Along with the official Roman cults there is a marked reverence for syncretized deities while the elevated spirituality and art are in service of public and administrative authorities which in their turn are executors of the will of the powerful members of imperial and patrician families. Such official atmosphere in art was based on strong Hellenistic influence, imported directly from East or through the influence of Roman civil servants, priests, merchants, craftsmen, freed slaves and slaves of Oriental origins.
2. Autochthonous Histro-Liburnian deities On the entire area of the Istrian peninsula, especially in its southern and southeastern parts, there was a prevalence of female autochthonous local deities until the Roman occupation in 177 BC. By an act of administrative division, i.e. Agrippa's reform of 12 BC, the border of the Empire was moved to the Raša River ( Arsia) dividing Istria in two parts. Southern, western, central and part of northern Istria were part of the Tenth Italic Region of Venetia et Histria, while its eastern part became part of the province of Dalmatia, later known as Liburnia after the Illyrian tribe of Liburni. In spite of such ethnic, geographic and administrative divisions which can not be disregarded in the course of the historical development, the phenomenon of prehistoric religion and its beliefs and cults and their correlation with Hellenistic and Greek-Roman religious beliefs can be observed on the whole Istrian territory in the period of classical antiquity.1 Most autochthonous cults are known from discovered and preserved inscriptions carved on votive monuments from the Roman period, with the exception of the monumental prehistoric sculptural group consisting of a female giving birth ( Magna Mater) and a male deity (horseman) (Puschi, A., 1905, 50-53; Mladin, J., 1966, 28-129; Jurkić, V., 1978a, 37-47; Kukoč, S., 1987, 75 et seq.). This stone sculpture has been found in Nesactium (Puschi, A., 1905, 50), an organized fortified hill-forth settlement whose roots stretch far back in time, to the Bronze Age and Late Iron Age (third/second century BC), when it had became, according to available sources, the capital of the tribal alliance of the Histri. According to Titus Livius (Liv., Nat. Hist., 41, 2, 9) Nesactium has been conquered in spring of 177 BC after a fierce battle between king Epulo's Histri and Roman soldiers under the leadership of Marcus Claudius Pulcher. This relentless war saw conquered by the Romans other important Illyrian fortified settlements (Faveria, Mutila) (Križman, M., 1979, 192-193). In the period of Roman rule, in the first century AD (after the reign of the Emperor Claudius) (Mlakar, Š., 1962, 1.48; Jurkić, V., 1983c, 10; Jurkić, V., 183d, 39-40, 87, 89; Jurkić, V., 1985 b, 70), Nesactium became a municipium; it is referred to as Res publica Nesactiensium on the votive altar to the Emperor Marcus Antonius Gordian III (238 – 244. g.) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 672; Jurkić, V., 1983b, 9-10; Margetić, L., 1996, 143-146; Džin, K., 2005, 232).
For new reference on cults in Istria see Jurkić, V. 1985, 275, note 1; Jurkić, V. 2005, 268-282.
As the administrative capital it kept its significant position in both spiritual and cultural sense, being the oldest known settlement with autochthonous Istrian cultural and cultic tradition and having a fully developed artistic production dating back from the Bronze and the Iron Ages. The aforementioned sculpture of a female giving birth, fragments of statues of naked young men, statues of Kouroi and stone slabs adorned with geometric ornaments bear witness to this ctonic tradition. (Mladin, J., 1966, 28 et seq.; Forlati Tamaro, B., 1927, 116-131; Duhn v. F.-Messerschmidt, 1939; Fischer, J., 1983, 28, 75-76; Fischer, J., 1984, 9-98; Stipčević, A., 1983, 27, 74; Stipčević, A., 1996, 65-68; Šašel Kos, M., 1999m 2529). Before embarking on a more detailed analysis of specific traits and the significance of autochthonous cults of Nesactium, it is very important to stress the fact that Nesactium is the only historical Istrian settlement in which Mycenaean, Greek/Archaic, Etruscan and late Hellenistic culture overlap and interweave in such a high degree. A proof testifying to Mycenaean and later Greek/Archaic interfusion with autochthonous tradition can be traced in the complex influence of decorative elements like the meander and the spiral on stone ornamental plaques (steles?) (Fischer, J., 1996, 69-80) dating from the eleventh century BC and on pottery of Histric provenance (Mladin, J., 1983, 24-25, 71.72; Mihovilić, K., 1972, 367; Mladin, J., 1996, 47-53; Glogović, D., 1996, 56-59). The mercantile import of the Daunic ceramics in Istria, of Greek and Corinthian pottery in the fifth century BC, and other earthenware imported from the fourth century to the second century BC adorned with Greek and Hellenistic motifs had a great impact on the taste and preferences of the Histri. These Greek and Hellenistic interfusions were a direct result of intense economic and cultural connections between the Istrian peninsula and the Hellenistic world in general since the most remote times, a theory witnessed by numerous everyday archaeological material culture findings (Batović, Š., 1972; Kučar, V., 1979, 85-121; Mihovilić, K., 1983; Glogović, D., 1996, 56-59). It was precisely the economic and cultural exchange with the Mediterranean world what contributed to Greek and Hellenistic influences to be accepted by autochthonous inhabitants in their rustic tribal habits of lif, making war, creative endeavours and decadence, especially within the sphere of religion, in the domain of the subtlest interfusion of spiritual influences.
The most thorough symbiosis has been achieved in interpolation of the elements of the fertility cult revered by all known prehistoric and classical antiquity populations, each in their distinctive single interpretation (for example Gea-Kibela, Magna Mater or Gea-Tellus, Magna Mater – Ops etc.) (Jurkić, V., 1978a, 37-44). The cult of the Great Mother (Magna Mater) originated from the primeval worship of nature and motherhood as a main renewing force within the society. It had been imported from the East and it soon found a suitable basis in the primordial native beliefs of the Nesactium area. The unmatched representation of a female giving birth is one of the oldest such representations in southeastern Europe. The female figure is just part of composition its other part being a male figure, represented as a horseman with a prominent phallus in high relief; the composition is without doubt related to the motif of fertility and giving birth. It is very interesting to note that this phenomenon represented in such realistic manner and in like conception has no parallel in monumental stone sculpture of antiquity. Therefore, the prehistoric Nesactium, as far as art and religious beliefs are concerned falls into a specific category of its own demanding further, more detailed analyses and possible links (Mladin, J., 1966; Jurkić, V., 1972, 43-76; Jurkić, V., 1978, 285-298; Fischer, J., 1984, 9.98). Roman votive inscriptions do not reveal much on various autochthonous male deities, as was generally the case with the rest of the antique world; we know of just one autochthonous deity instead, in its interpretatio Romana version known as Melosocus Augustus and of its Greek counterpart Theo Melisoko, also from Nesactium or the Faverija area (Mutvoran?) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no 661, 662; Degrassi, A., 1970, 617; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1970, 6; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 162-164; Jurkić, V., 1983, 15; Jurkić, V., 1985, 279; Matijašić, R., 2000a, 8-9; Jurkić, V., 2995, 130). The sculpture of the ithyfallic horseman could be brought in connection with this single autochthonous male deity referred to as the ‘Thracian Horseman’ by some authors. The ‘Thracian Horseman’ theory could be possibly brought in connection with the legend of the Argonauts (Križman, M., 1979, 30, 35, 41, 45-55, 71, 85-86, 209 et seq.), reminiscence of mercantile contacts between Adriatic and the Aegean through which both cult and religious impacts could have been achieved. The other prehistoric stone sculpture is the Twin Head, which suggests its autochthonous origins and shows some almost divine characteristics. It is a sculptural
composition consisting of two heads connected at their backs, like Siamese twins, with two faces. One face bears a smile while the other is severe with distinctive traits of true sorrow. The composition resembles the one of Janus Bifrons, the god of all beginnings, the oldest Latin deity who kept its authentic significance until the late antiquity in spite of many imports of Greek and Oriental cults and interpretations. Since the first representations of Janus Bifrons can be found on a Roman bronze cast as from the fourth century BC, and the stylistic interpretation of the Twin Head from Nesactium bears resemblance with the statues of Kore from the Acropolis from the fifth century BC, we may come to the conclusion that this unique Histric sculpture shows certain Greek/Archaic traits (Puschi, A., 1905, 50 et seq.; Sticotti, P., 1902, 121; Gnirs, A., 1915, 147-149; Gnirs, A., 1925, 123, fig. 75; Zisi, M.-Popović, Lj., 1960, 18; Fischer, K., 1983, 28, 75-76; Fischer, J., 1996, 69-80). However, considering that the Histri had connections with the Etruscan civilization, a fact supported by findings of imported material of Etruscan origin found in Histric tombs and graves (Mihovilić, K., 1980, 279-283; Mihovilić, K.- Matijašić Buršić, K., 1985, 31-51; Mihovilić, K., 1996, 9-64), especially those in Picugi, Nesactium and Beram, the striking resemblance of the expressions on the two faces with the Apollo of Vei and other Etruscan sculptures, connects the Twin Head with the Italic art in terms of the subject-matter and the Etruscan one in terms of its artistic and stylistic representation. The two aforementioned instances of religious and cultic aspects of the Nesactium Histris, and the archaeological material findings which indicate connections between Nesactium and the Este Culture in northeastern Italy, Greece and the Hallstatt circle in the north, tell us that in prehistory and during the whole period of classical antiquity Nesactium has been a focal point of economic, cultural and artistic trends, that had their source in cults and developed religious beliefs (Mihovilić, K., 1996, 61-64; Jurkić, V., 1996, 81-90; Kozličić. M., 1996, 135-165). The continuity of the fertility cult worship in Istria during the period of the Roman rule, especially in Nesactium, which had its first figural representations and its concept formed in prehistory already, can be systematically observed through several aspects. The worship of the Great Mother based on native autochthonous tradition in Roman times found its figural representation in a classical marble sculpture of a seated goddess also found in Nesactium (Jurkić, V., 1972, 50-51, 59, Pl. VI-VII; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 211-212, note 31; Jurkić, V., 1974, 9-10, note 37; Jurkić, V., 1975, 293-294, fig. 3; Mlakar, Š., 1978, 56 with
illustration). In Pula it is manifested through votive inscriptions dedicated to dendrophoroi (the ‘tree-bearers), loyal servants of the Great Mother (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 155; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 81; Jurkić, V., 1972, 50.51, 59) and sculptural representations of Attis (Jurkić, V., 1972, 49-50; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 212; Jurkić, V., 1974, 10; Jurkić, V., 1975, 291, note 30; Jurkić, V., 1978, 175-188). The cult of Magna Mater is explicitly mentioned on the inscription from Jesenovik (Degrassi, A., 1933, 381 with photo = Degrassi, A., 1962, 887-889 with illustration; Degrassi, A., 1936, no. 198; Swoboda, R. M., 1969, 207, no. 19; Degrassi, A., 1970, 625; Jurkić, V., 1972a, note 30b; Jurkić, V., 1972, 67, Pl. 8; Jurkić, V., 1974, 7-33, note 36b; Jurkić, V., 1975, 298, fig. 4; Vermaseren, M. J., 1978, 100, no. 250;), a site in the Raša River valley, near the borderline with Liburnia. All this facts and unquestionable statements tell us of very strong Hellenistic and Oriental influences which were dominant on the whole Istrian territory from prehistory to late antique period. Beside the fertility cult, developing in various dominant versions of specific religious conceptions, the period of classical antiquity in Istria saw veneration of many autochthonous cults dedicated to female deities, with their names preserved on inscriptions in their pure form or in their Roman interpretation. So, we find names of deities worshipped in the Histric native religious tradition like Boria, Trita, Nebres, Sentona and Eia (Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 209-210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 5; Jurkić, V., 1981, 151; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8) and Ika or Ica (often associated with the epithet Augusta) (Jurkić, V., 1974, 38; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160; Jurkić, V., 1983, 9; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 70, 73-74; Jurkić, V., 2005, 122-124, 137; Matijašić, R., 2005, 202) and Iria Venus (Šašel Kos, M., 70-71; Jurkić, V., 2005, 128). These deities remained present and their worship continued in their Roman interpretation, characteristic of the liberal religious attitude of the Roman authorities. Special mention should be made of a native deity mentioned on an inscription from Rovinj with the dual name of Seixomnia Leucitica. It should be noted that the dedicants mentioned on votive inscriptions are mostly of Oriental origins (like for example Evangelus colonorum polensium Boriae V.S.L.M. ) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 2; Henzen, G., 1856, no. 5945; Kandler, P., 1855, 172; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 7; Tomaschek, G., 1885, 98; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 4893; Krahe, J., 1929, 24; Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 66, 71-72). The name of Sexomniai Leuciticai mentioned with the dative case ending –ai, commonly used since the Republic, indicates the impact of Oriental grammatical forms. This is also
suggested by the linguistic form Polates with the meaning “inhabitants of Pula” which is older than the later form Polentii. Namely, during the Republic the inhabitants of Pula were addressed as Polates, while during the Empire they were called Polentii (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 29 and no. 642). The liberal attitude of Rome towards various others religious beliefs allowed and tolerated autochthonous deities being worshipped side by side with the official Roman gods. This same principle was present in the Triestine, Parentine and Pula agers, and part of the Istrian Liburnia which was part of the province of Dalmatia. A thorough survey of autochthonous cults in Istria in the period of classical antiquity with regard to Hellenistic and Greek-Roman beliefs will reveal two significant features. During the process of their development the autochthonous cults in Istria were submitted to the influence of Hellenistic religious beliefs of the antique Mediterranean, and they probably acquired some features characteristic of the Etruscan religion. The overall prevalence of female cults indicates strong tradition of matriarchy in general and the predominance of a developed dominating matriarchy before the establishment of military democracy within the Histrian tribes (Jurkić, V., 1983, 15; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 63; Jurkić, V., 2005, 116-117). The most important were reverence of fertility cult and observance of childbearing women, the people praised fertility of plants and cattle, so that the authentic forms of reverence included deities deep-rooted in local tradition, which even after the Roman conquest of the peninsula continued to be worshipped in their autochthonous form or their Roman version, the interpretatio romana.
3. Illyrian-Roman cults The diffusion, number and specific qualities of the Illyrian-Roman cults in Roman time on the Istrian territory is one of those special aspects of the spiritual culture development of this area whether administrative parts of the Tenth Italic Region Venetia et Histria stretching to the Raša River or of the so called Liburnia which was part of the province of Dalmatia.
The year 177 BC when the Illyrians were defeated in Nesactium and which marked the beginning of almost seven hundred year-long Roman domination over the Istrian peninsula is not the year of the final spiritual subduing of the Illyrians. The material archaeological findings which could testify to a supposedly very heterogeneous religious life of the Illyrians, especially of the Histri and the Liburni, are neither numerous nor preserved in great number (Stipčević, A., 1974, 180-218). One of them is the famous and often mentioned monolithic stone sculpture of a woman giving birth, the only anthropomorphic representation of a female autochthonous deity, the Great Mother (Magna Mater), which in a symbolic manner embodies the fertility cult in general (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1925, 116-143; Duhn, F.Messerschmidt, 1939, 145; Vasić, R., 1965, 151-154; Stipčević, A., 1961; Medini, J., 1976, 185-207: Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 207).2 Numerous scholars of Illyrian religious life and their cults agree on the well-argumented hypothesis that this unique stone sculpture represents the Great Mother of all gods, although this still remains an open issue in need of further substantiation (Jurkić, V., 1972, 39.76; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 206-223, note 2; Jurkić, V., 1974, 9, note 2; Jurkić, V., 1975, 285-298). However, the specific qualities of the autochthonous Histrian and Liburnian traditions and the distinctive features of their spiritual life during the Roman domination are particularly reflected in the heterogeneous but very utilitarian religious system of the Illyrian tribes resisting the adversities of the Roman military and cultural expansion and surviving the almost seven-century long process of Romanization of Istria. There were numerous stone monuments found in the Nesactium area during the two last centuries (Sticotti, P., 1904, 15 et seq.; Puschi A., 1905, 3 et seq.; Mladin, J., 1966, 28 et seq.; Fischer, J., 1983, 28-76; Fischer, J., 1984, 9-98; Stipčević, A., 1969, 65-68) and votive altars from the Roman period dedicated in the first place to Illyrian autochthonous female deities (Jurkić, V., 2005, 39-47). The ruins of the city revealed a votive altar dedicated to the goddess Eia bearing the inscription Eiae Aug(ustae) L(ucius) Torius Stephanus v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 660) written in letters accurately cut. It belongs to the group of classical altars revealing a fine masterly workmanship (Puschi, A., 1905, 291; Gnirs, A., 1915, 161-162, no. 445, fig. 116; Forlati Tamaro, B., 1930, 7, fig. 2; Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 209-210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 5; Jurkić, V., 1981,
Most authors engaged in research of the origins and determination of the production period of stone sculptures from Nezakcij, especially the monumental one of the child-bearing goddess, agree it was shaped under Archaic Greek influence in the sixth or fifth century BC. For previous research and datation see Mladin, J., 1966, 5 – 22.
151, fig. 3, note 8; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8). Eia is mentioned on yet another altar, a more rustic one (Kandler, P., 1855, folio 252; Burton, R.F.-Scampicchio, A., 1880, 23; Weisshäupl, R., 1895, 18 et seq.: Puschi, A., 1905, 292; Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1974, 5-6; Jurkić. V., 1981, 151, fig. 4; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8, fig. 11) bearing the inscription Ei(a)e Aug(ustae) sac(rum) Brissinius Ier[---] v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 659). According to B. Forlati Tamaro the altars belong in the second and third centuries respectively. They are valuable examples testifying to continuity of worship of the goddess Eia’s cult: the votive altar dedicated by Torius is a finely dressed stone block with the inscription in symmetrical capitals accurately cut and of triangular endings, characteristic feature of the first century lettering, while the votive monument dedicated by Brissinius is a rather rustic limestone block with the inscription consisting of letters varying considerbly in proportions and shape and missing the praenomen of the onomastic formula, features which place it in the late second and the early third centuries (Jurkić, V., 1979b, 213; Jurkić, V., 2005, 122-123). We are not familiar with visual interpretations of the goddess Eia. We may only speculate whether the relief of a female figure in the small temple gable medallion or the one at the Nesactium graveyard complex near which the aforementioned votive altars have been found, are actual representations of the goddess (Sticotti, P., 1905a, 213-223, Pl. 3/1). The hairstyle places it in the first half of the first century (Matijašić, R., 1996, 105-107; Jurkić, V., 2005, 124; Jurkić, V. - Džin, K., 2006, 117-118). Nesactium was the place of worship of other female Illyrian deities, one of them being Trita. The votive altar dedicated to this autochthonous goddess of health or a water nymph has been found in the Nesactium area during the excavations of the Roman thermae. A short inscription reads: Tritae Aug(ustae) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 665). The name of the goddess appears in the so called interpretatio romana indicated by the addition of the title Augusta meaning “The Sublime One”, as was the case with the two aforementioned inscriptions referring to goddess Eia. Both of them are instances of Illyrian-Roman syncretist female deities (Eia Augusta and Trita Augusta). However, the name of Trita is not to be commonly found in Istria, being more common in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the forms Tritan, Tritanon and Traitano (Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 73; Jurkić, V., 2005, 136). It can be
compared with the name of Trittian, the deity of Galliae Narbonensis.3 Therefore, in lack of further substantiation we can only speculate on the Illyrian and Illyrian-Celtic origins of the goddess. The votive altar from Nesactium is of a rather rustic workmanship as is the inscription bearing her name, which leads us to the conclusion that the monument belongs to the third century (Puschi, A., 1905, 293; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 153, fig. 6; Jurkić, V., 1983, 9). We are also concerned with the instance of reverence of a deity named Histria, being homonymous with the region - Deciorum Terrae Histriae. The name probably denotes a deity who was once a protecting goddess of the whole geographic area (Istria) and of its inhabitants (the Histri). A votive altar to Terrae Histriae, found near a Roman road connecting Nesactium and Pula, bears the inscription Thala[ssa] [D]eciorum Terrae His[t]riae v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 664). The monument is a massive limestone block with the inscription consisting of large letters accurately cut and was dedicated by a male or a female slave. It is generally assumed it was made in the first century (Sticotti, P., 1908, 222, no. 8; Sticotti, P., 1934, 253; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6, note 8; Jurkić, V., 1981, 153; Jurkić, V., 1983, 9; Jurkić, V., 2005, 126). The worship of Histria, Terra Histria or Istria, the variant of the name depending on the choice of the Roman spelling, was not confined to the Nesactium area only; most importantly, the goddess has been worshipped on the whole Istrian territory. One of the places of her worship was Rovinj or its closest surroundings, where a small temple ( fanum) dedicated to this goddess was erected, a fact witnessed by the inscription on the epistyle: Histriae fanum, ab C(aio) Vibio Varo patre inchoatum, Q(uintus) Caesius Macrinus perfecit et dedicavit (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 641). According to the shaping of the epistyle and the names of Caius Vibius Varius who had begun its erection, and Caesius Macrinus who ended it and dedicated it4, the edifice was probably erected during the early imperial period (Tomasini, J. P., 1837, 46, 429; Tomasini, J. P., 1654, 83; Orsato, S., 1652, 236; Reinesius, T., 1788, 136; Silvestri, C., 1711, 563; Carli, G. R., 1750, 189; Carli G. R., 1788, 136; Stanković, P., 1828, 91; Maffei, M. S., 1749, 88, no. 2; Donati, S., 1765, 79, no. 1; Furlanetto,
On the Illyrian origin of the names Tritan and Tritanon see Patsch, C., Wissensch. Mittheilungen aus Bosnien und Herzegovina, 4, 1896, 287; Krahe, J., 1929, 117. Cf. similarities between Trite and Trittian, the goddess of Galliae Narbonensis. See ROSCHER W., 1884, 5, 1210. 4 According to B. Forlati Tamaro Caius Vibius Varius had been member of the quattuorvir monetalis – one of the four members of the mint committee in Rome in 37 BC.
G., 1848, 39, no. 38; Vergotin, B., 1870, 206; Gregorutti, C., 1847, no. 63-64, 261; Kandler, P., 185, 168; Orelli, G.G., 1828, no. 1808; Mommsen, Th., 1872.1877, no. 309; Pais, H., 1888, 6; Sticotti, P., 1908, 222; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 153; Jurkić V., 1983, 9-10; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 67; Jurkić, V., 2005, 126). It is our opinion the edifice has been erected during the early imperial period and that it was integral part of a votive architectural complex, a theory witnessed by an identical epistyle, i. e. belonging to the same typological group, dedicated to goddess Fortuna found in the seventeenth century in close proximity of the temple. Instances of twin temples are common in Istria: we may find them in Pula, on the Brijuni Islands (Verige) and in Nesactium (Jurkić, V., 2005, 95-110). Histria was also worshipped in Poreč. In 1845 on the Forum area, along with the so called Neptune’s Temple, a very fine votive altar was found dedicated by Carminia Prisca. The whole inscription reads: Carminia L. f. Prisca Histriae terrae v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Degrassi, A., 1934, no. 1). According to its shape and the inscription the altar was probably made in the second century (Kandler, P., 1843-1844, folio 69; Henzen, G., 1856, no. 5812; Gregorutti, C., 1847, 261; Polesini, F., 1857; Arneth, J., 1850, 297; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 327; Wilmans, G., 1973, no. 53; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 3918; Roscher, W., 1884, 1, 2697; Sticotti, P., 1908, 209, 220; Pogatschnig, A., 1914, 49; Degrassi A., 1970, 619; Jurkić, V., 1981, 154, fig. 10; Jurkić, V., 1983, 10, fig. 10). All the aforementioned inscriptions had the name of the autochthonous Illyrian deity spelled Histria. A votive altar from Pula reads as follows: Aeflania Isias Istr[i]ae [v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)] (Forlati Tamaro, 1947, no. 7). We are dealing with the same autochthonous deity; namely, in the first few centuries AD the Illyrian name was spelled and read with an “H” as “Histria”, as it appears on the aforementioned inscriptions, while since the third century AD, which is probably the time of manufacture of the altar from Pula, the name appears in its pure Roman form as “Istria” (Kandler, P., 1843-1844, folio 81; Gregorutti, C., 1847, no. 63-64, 261; Kandler, P., 185, 167; Arneth, J., 1850, 296; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 101; Maionica, H., 1879, 44; Degrassi, A., 1970, 619; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 153; Jurkić, V., 1983, 9-10; Šašel Kos., M., 1999, 66.67; Jurkić, V., 2005, 40.43, 125-127).
In Pula and its surroundings, the old Illyrian hill-fort settlement, later Roman Pietas Iulia and Colonia Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea5, there were several votive altars found and preserved, dating from the Roman period and mentioning some of the Illyrian female deities. The aforementioned Eia worshipped in Nesactium had adherents to her cult in Pula also. The inscription on a votive altar, according to its classical form and the type of letters considered to be dating from the first century, reads as follows: Eiae Aug(ustae) Ant(onia) Severina v(otum) s(olvit) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 3). The monument has been described by Pietro Kandler in 1846 already (Kandler, P., 1843-1844, folio 14; Kandler, P., 1846, 28; Kandler, P., 185, 166; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 4892; Henzen, G., 1856, no. 5891; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 189; Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1974, 5-6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 151, fig. 11; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8, fig. 11). A votive altar from Dvigrad found some thirty years ago dedicated to Eia which is mentioned in its syncretized form as Eia Augusta, indicates a wider circle of devotees of this autochthonous goddess’s cult on the very border between the Pula and the Parentine agers. The entire inscription reads as follows: Eia Aug(ustae) L. Gn(aeus) Pollent(ius) v(otum) s(olvit). It is interesting to note that the votive altar to the syncretized “version” of the goddess Eia was dedicated by an inhabitant of Pula. The family name Polentius is the local attribute of the town's freedmen and their descendants (Marušić, B., 1971, 19, Pl. 20/1; Jurkić, V., 1981, 151, fig. 12; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8, fig. 12: Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 68-70). There is no evidence whatsoever suggesting the reverence of the cult of Eia in any of its forms in the Parentine ager. There is record of reverence for native deities of elementary forces in Roman Pula. A votive altar dedicated to Boria testifies to this theory. The inscription found in 1827 reads: Evangelus colonorum Polensium (servus) Boriae v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Forlatti Tamaro, 1947, no. 1). Some scholars have it that Boria was a deity of wind, hence the name of the wind „bora“ (bura, Greek borras) common in Istria and the Kvarner (Rosetti, D., 1870, 119; Orti, I. H., 1836, 1-20; Hemzen, G., 1856, no. 5945; Kandler, P., 1943-1844, folio 65; Savwlsberg, 1859, 145; Kandler, P., 1855, 172; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 7; Tomaschek, G., 1855, 98; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 4893; Krahe, J., 1929, 24; Degrassi, A.,
PLIN., Nat. Hist., 3, 129, makes mention of Pietas Iulia, while an inscription from Pula (I.I., X/I, 85) reads the town's name in its full form - Colonia Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea. The epithet Herculanea connects Pula with Hercules, the town's protector, and his cult. See Forlati Tamaro, B., 1971, 17; Jurkić, V., 1984, 2552; Matijašić, R.-Matijašić Buršić, K., 1996, 39-45.
1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6). There is another votive altar praising a deity “in charge of” elementary forces - Nebres (from the Greek νεβρις), the goddess of the tempest, rainstorms and fog. It was found in 1876 in the area of Campus Martius in Pula. Its rustic inscription reads as follows: Nebribus Tertia Aug(usti serva) pro Barbar[a] (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no.17). This altar, maybe a dedication to local nymphs, is very important in comprehending the wide range of Illyrian deities worshipped in their syncretized forms on the whole area of the ager Polensis in Roman time (Gregorutti, C., 1876, 108; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8133; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 189; Sticotti, P., 1914, 123, no. 126; Krahe, J., 1929, 79; Roscher, W., 1884, 3, 69; Conway, R.S., 1933, 2, 219; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 156, fig. 14; Jurkić, V., 1983, 11; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 74; Jurkić, V., 2005, 136). Among many autochthonous deities manifested in the pure form of their one-word names, mention must be made of the isolated instance of a female deity with a bipartite name, discovered in western Istria, on the Pula ager between Rovinj and Bale. It is the goddess Seixomnia Leucitica mentioned on the inscription from the first century BC, the period of the Republic, the date of its manufacture determined by the form in which the name of the dedicant, a Pula citizen, appears on the inscription – it appears in its oldest form as Polates6. The inscription reads: Seixomniai Leuciticai Polates (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 642). It is interesting to note that the case ending denoting the genitive and the dative cases is not -ae but -ai. According to R. S. Conway and G. Tomaschek this deity is of Celtic origins (Conway, R. S., 1933, 219; Tomaschek, G., 1885, 95 et seq.). The fact that this inscription is the sole instance of the name of the goddess on the whole Istrian territory makes it impossible to determine the origin and the character of the deity herself (Kandler, P., b, folios 30.32; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8185; Münsterberg, R.-Patsch, C., 1892, 58; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 4890; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 156; Jurkić, V., 1983, 1; Jurkić, V., 1985, 281; Jurkić, V., 2005, 43, 135). On the Istrian east coast, from the Raša River ( Arsia) to Trsat (Tarsatica), on the area of the so called Illyrian Liburnia, there are numerous instances of one-word named native female deities. Most of them were registered on the municipal ager of the Roman Albona (Labin), the area of many Illyrian hill-fort settlements7.
For more on the form Polates see Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947 (Praefatio, VIII).
The most commonly worshipped deity in the Labin area of Liburnia was the goddess Sentona. Her name appears on three votive altars. One of them was found in Labin in 1881; we are not familiar with its today's whereabouts, but the text of its inscription has been preserved and it reads as follows: Geminus Boninus Hostiducis Sentonae v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (CIL, III, 10075; Sticotti, P., 1908, 226; Corelli, M., 1937, no. 12; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6, note 18b; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12). The second votive altar was also found in the Labin area; its inscription reads: Sentonae sacrum Tullia Fusca v(otum) s(olviti) (CIL, III, 2910; Degrassi, A., 1934a, 113; Corelli, M., 1937, no. 24; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210,; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6, note 183; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158, fig. 18; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12; Jurkić, V., 2005, 132) . The third inscription dedicated to this autochthonous goddess was inscribed on a small altar found in 1961. It is simple and clear, without ligatures, with a prominent “T” and a long “I”. Words are divided by triangular dots. The inscription reads: Sentonae sacr(um) C(aius) Vibius Florus v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (CIL, III, 2909; Oreb, F., 1967, 41; Medini, J., 1973, 130; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12, fig. 17; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12, fig. 21; Jurkić, V., 2005, 132; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 75; Jurkić, V., 2005, 43-45). According to the shape and the inscription the monument probably dates from the first or second centuries AD. It is very important to stress the fact that the worship of Sentona in the area between Labin (Albona) and Plomin (Flanona) was a very intense one including a large number of adherents, and this very area was, in all probability, the primordial cultic centre of this autochthonous Illyrian deity. We have every reason to believe so according to a large number of votive altars dedicated to this goddess found in the area. A small altar was found in the area just above the Plomin Bay, with the votive inscription reading as follows: Sentonae [S]il[ic]ia v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (CIL, III, 10076; Forlati Tamaro, B., 1928, 405; Corelli, M., 1937, no. 5; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6, note 18c; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12, fig. 20; Jurkić, V., 2005, 131), which probably also dates from the first or second centuries AD. A votive altar, today in Rijeka, was found in Plomin. Its inscription reads: Sentonae Felix Aug(usti) n(ostri) [v(otum)] s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (CIL, III, 2901; Kandler, P., d, folio 38; Sticotti, P., 1910, 167; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V.,
For more information on the border area of the province of Dalmatia (Liburnia) and the Tenth Italic Region Venetia et Histria see Degrassi, A., 1954, 1 – 189.
1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12; Jurkić, V., 2005, 134). In 1928 in Plomin, not far from the regional road, there was an altar found, with the votive inscription Senton(a)e Sex(tus) Aem(ilius) v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (CIL, III, 2900; Forlati Tamaro, B., 1928, 405; Degrassi, A., 1970, 618, note 27; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158, note 29; Jurkić, V., 2005, 133), which is probably contemporaneous with the last aforementioned one, i. e. it was probably made in the late first century or the early second century. A small votive altar walled in the outer wall of St. Jerome's Church on Trsat was in all probability also found in Plomin. The text of its inscription, recorded by Pietro Kandler reads as follows: Sentonae Eutychus v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Mommsen, Th., 1972-1877, no. 3026; Kandler, P., 1855, 555; Kandler, P., d, folio 38 with a note written down by T. Licijani; Sticotti, P., 1904, 226; Degrassi, A., 1942, 1912; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158, note 29; Jurkić, V., 2005, 134). The worship of the cult of the autochthonous goddess Sentona was also present in central Istria, on the periphery of the Parentine ager, in the Tenth Italic Region, not far from Pazin. A votive altar found in winter of 1943/1944 in Katuni near Boljun was probably pertaining to a small sacellum whose architectural remnants are still visible. The inscription reads: Sentonae Silicius Rufus d(ono) d(edit) (Mlakar, Š., 1957, 461-462, fig. 30; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158, fig. 20; Jurkić, V., 1983, 12, note 30, fig. 20; Jurkić, V., 2005, 133; Matijašić, R., 2005, 202-203). The altar had ornaments on its lateral sides but the reliefs are hardly discernible today which makes it quite impossible to determine the attributes both of the goddess and her devotees. Since the most represented deity in this part of Istria, that is in the Labin area, was the female deity Sentona, of unknown attributes and significance though, according to W. Roscher she could be almost identified with Here, whose altar was found not far from Brijan near Čepić in 1870 (CIL, III, 8126; De Franceschi, C., 1889, 177; Corelli, M., 1937, no. 10; Jurkić, V., 1978a, 40). According to D. Holder the deity might have Celtic origins but such hypothesis needs more archaeological substantiation, while the onomastic research on the Istrian territory resulted incomplete and in need of systematization. (Jurkić, V., 2005, 43-44, 47; Matijašić, R., 2005, 201-202). Proofs of reverence for other autochthonous deities whose worship continued during Roman time were found in the narrow coastal area of eastern Istria. A votive altar found in Labin in 1886 makes mention of Iutossica in its votive inscription recorded by Pietro Kandler:
(T(itus) Granius Voltimes(is) f(ilius) Rufus Iutossicae v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (CIL, III, 10074; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 4884; Sticotti, P., 1908, 226; Corelli, M., 1037, no. 34; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210, note 18; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 158.159; Jurkić, V., 1983, 13; Jurkić, V., 2005, 135; Matijašić, R., 202-203) . We learn of Aitica from an altar found in Rabac in 1947 and its inscription which refers to her as Augusta: Aiticae Aug(ustae) T(iti) Gavilli(orum) Voltimes […] (Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6, note 20; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160; Jurkić, V., 1983, 13, note 33). A town near Rijeka has been named, and still bears the same name, after a deity named Ica. The area on the foothills of Učka is known to be rich in springs of fresh water so it is possible that the name was given to a local nymph of sources and water. Two votive altars dedicated to this goddess have been found until today: one was found under the Plomin's castle (Flanona), the other one in Pula (Pola). The altar from Plomin dedicated to Ica (its inscription reads: Ica) was walled in above the drain of one of the springs (Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 3031; Sticotti, P., 1908, 226-227; Degrassi, A., 1934b, 899; Degrassi, A., 1970, 617; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210, note 18; Jurkić, V., 1981, 16, note 34; Jurkić, V., 1984, 6, note 19a; Jurkić, V., 2005, 137; Matijašić, R., 205, 202). The other altar dedicated to the same deity was found in Pula in 1954. On one of its lateral sides there is a somewhat damaged relief with a discernible representation of a female clothed in short chiton, holding a sickle and standing under an olive or a palm tree, while on the opposite side of the altar there was a representation of a tree and of few unidentified items. The inscription reads: Ike Aug(ustae) sac(rum) Vesid(ius) Urs(us) v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Jurkić, V., 1974, 38, note 19b; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160, fig. 23; Jurkić, V., 1983, 9, fig. 12; Šašel, J.-Marušić, B., 1984, 305, no. 15; Tassaux, F., 1997, 78; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 70; Jurkić, V., 2005, 137; Matijašić, R., 2005, 202). On the basis of this isolated finding from Pula it is very difficult to tell whether the reverence for Ica in Pula dates from prehistoric times or we are only dealing with a case of an unknown devotee who settled in Pula coming from another area, bringing the monument and the reverence for this autochthonous Illyrian deity with himself. However, this votive inscription which dates from the second century AD makes it possible to claim that Ica was worshipped even in Pula, while the preserved part of the relief (and possibly the only iconographic representation of this autochthonous goddess) suggests she might have been the protecting goddess of olive growing and crops. That might explain why she was represented with an olive tree, as was the Genius of the Silvanus’s cult from Buzet. Ica should be brought in connection with one of the Roman goddesses of fertility and agriculture.
Iria was yet another autochthonous deity whose divinized votive inscription found in Plomin reads as follows: Iriae Aug(ustae) in memoriam Vibiae Portiae matris Aquilia Q. f. Colatina d(ono) d(edit) (CIL, III, 3032; Sticotti, P., 1908, 226-227; Matijašić, R., 2005, 222). In the so called interpretatio romana she has been assimilated to Venus since there is a votive inscription from Jesenovik, in the Raša River valley, on the border between Liburnia and the Tenth Italic Region Venetia et Histria, in which her name appears as Iria Venus. The inscription reads: Iri(a)e Veneri C(ai) Vale(rii) Optati f(ilia) Felicula v(otum) l(ibens) m(erito) (Degrassi, A., 1936, no. 197; Kandler, P., 1843-1844, 56; Kandler, P., 1846, 12; Kandler, P., 1855, 487; Kandler, P., a, folio 4; Kenner, F., 1867, 214; Mommsen, Th., 18721877, no. 3033; Roscher, W., 1884, 319; Ruggiero, de H., 1922, 85; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 213; Jurkić, V., 1974, 1, note 47; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160; Jurkić, V., 1983, 14; Šašel Kos., M., 1999, 70-71; Jurkić, V., 2005, 128; Matijašić, R., 2005, 202) . These two known facts lead us to the conclusion that Iria was a native Illyrian deity who was identified with Venus. Reverence for her cult was recorded only on the Istrian east coast since there is no evidence of votive inscriptions whatsoever which would indicate worship of the goddess on the western coast. Speaking about instances of Illyrian-Roman syncretism manifested in worship of Iria Venus, Eia Augusta and Ica Augusta, mention should be made of the specific worship of Minerva Flanatica in the Parentine ager and Minerva Polensis in Pula. The votive altar dedicated to Minerva Flanatica from Monsaleš near Poreč reveals an autochthonous deity identified with the Italic Minerva. The votive inscription reads as follows: [M]inervae
[F]lanaticae [sa]crum […]dius Bassus [ex] v(oto) quot a dea pe[tit] consecutus (Degrassi, A.,
1934, no. 194; RFC, n.c.m X, 1932, 87; AMSI, 42, 1931, 381; Degrassi, A., 1962d, 875; Degrassi, A., 1970, 625; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160-161, fig. 25; Jurkić, V., 1983, 14, fig. 25; Jurkić, V., 2005, 154). It is important to stress that this was the Minerva worshipped by the Flanates. This cult has a common feature with the cult of Ica, namely the instance of transfer of an autochthonous cult from the eastern to the western coast of Istria, the theory being that of an immigrant who continued to worship his native deity in the new home identifying it with the Italic goddess worshipped on the Istrian western coast, Pula in particular. Since Minerva has been worshipped with the epithet Flanatica, this indicates a case of interpretatio romana of some autochthonous Liburnian cult similar to or identical with Minerva's Roman
cult. Starting from this assumption we may expect to find autochthonous religious beliefs at the root of the interpretatio romana of the Minerva Polensis. The official epithet of Minerva being Polensis or Polatica, a quotation on a publica religio inscription, the name given to one of the insulae in Pula - insula Minervae, facts on numerous Minerva’s slaves and the occurrence of the name (cognomina) Minervae, Minervinus, Minervianus on some of the inscriptions from Pula, suggest the real significance of this syncretized cult in Pula (Medini, J., 1972, 189; Jurkić, V., 1981, no. 160; Jurkić, V., 2005, 46, 153). In the multitude of Illyrian and syncretized Illyrian-Roman deities special mention should be made of the male local deity under the name Melosocus. Numen Melosocus appears in its syncretized form as Melosocus Augustus on the inscription of the votive altar found in surroundings of Krnica, an area pertaining to the municipium of Nesactium, a peripheral area on the border with Liburnia. The inscription reads: Numini Melosoco Aug(usto) sacrum Cn(aeus) [P]apiriu[s] Eumelu[s] ex voto (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 661). According to Th. Mommsen the name derives from some Istrian family name (gentilitium) ending in –ocus, while A. Gnirs has it that Melosocus was the name of a river, stream or a hill. However, this is an isolated case of a local deity, though it is explicitly called numen, which is not the case with other female deities (Franceschi, de C., 1866, no. 13; Kandler, P., 1843-1844, 103, 105, 106; Buttazzioni, C., 1870, 18; Buttazzioni, C., 1888, 459; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8127; Weishäupl, R., 1895, 20; Schiavuzzi, B., 1908, 92; Sticotti, P., 1908, 225; Degrassi, A., 1970, 617; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 162-164, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1983, 15, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1985, 279; Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 74-75; Jurkić, V., 2005, 46-47, 128-130). There are two other votive altars dedicated to this autochthonous deity found in Krnica surroundings; one of them was found in 1900 with the inscription that reads Me[l]osoc[o…] Aug(usti servus) ili (libertus) (Forlati Tamaro, B. 1947, no. 661; Schiavuzzi, B., 1908, 92; Sticotti, P., 1908, 223; Degrassi, A., 1970, 617; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1970, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 162-164, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1985, 279; Jurkić, V., 2005, 129), while the other one was found in 1999 in the Golubičina Pit and bears a Greek inscription which reads Theo Melisoco Silouester apodus thusian.8 The dedicant is Silvester, bearing a
Izvještaj Arheološkog muzeja Istre br. 513 – 99 (K. Buršić-Matijašić i R. Matijašić) from May 6, 1999. I am grateful for the data put at my disposal.
name of Latin origin, probably an Italic but by all means a Greek slave according to the way he expressed his devotion (Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 74). An instance of a local Genius specific of a pronouncedly narrow geographical area and significance has been registered in Istria. It is the so called Genius Barbulanus mentioned on the inscription of a small rustic votive altar from the late first century which reads: Genio Barbulani P. Fl(avius) D[io]medes (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 711). The monument was found in 1942 near St. Peter's Church (Mirabella Roberti, M., 1949a, 275; Degrassi, A., 1970, 621 Jurkić, V., 1980, 27; Jurkić, V., 1981, 164; Jurkić, V., 1983, 15, fig. 27; Jurkić, V., 1983a, 111; Jurkić, V., 2005, 125) on a hill which once had been place of the Illyrian hill-fort and a later settlement, half way between Medulin and Pula, inhabited until the Middle Ages when it has been devastated by plague. In medieval records the place is referred to as Barbolanum; today it is called Barbulan. A large number of female autochthonous cults discovered on Istrian peninsula indicate a developed matriarchate among the Illyrians, which survived in the native tradition and continued to exist in the centuries of Roman domination over the peninsula. The matriarchate of the deities was organized according to its own hierarchy reflecting itself in the predominance of Sentona's and Eia's cults over local goddesses and nymphs of lesser significance. It is interesting to note that Sentona’s cult had its maximum concentration in the Labin area (Liburnia) with a few occurrences in central Istria, while worship of the goddess Eia was mostly reserved for the Pula and Nesactium agers in southern Istria. The survey of autochthonous deities whose names appear on inscriptions of votive altars from the Roman period found in southern and southeastern Istria, only few of them being registered on the western coast and in central Istria, leads us to the conclusion that the native Illyrian (Histric) element remained loyal to and preserved its religious tradition of a markedly agricultural and rural character dating back to the prehistoric and protohistoric periods. There were a few instances of syncretism between this element and the Italic official cults, also of rural and agricultural origins, adapted to newly established religious circumstances. The local tradition of native cults during the Roman period was by all means a very strong one, a fact witnessed by many instances of settlers, freedmen and slaves, especially
those of Oriental origins, mentioned as dedicants, who accepted the worship of local cults which were deep-rooted and autochthonous to their new homeland. In order to ensure a better life and work conditions, all of them placed the fate in the hands of local deities and worshipped their cults which existed side by side with Roman official cults in Istria. The worship of these cults continued until late antiquity and was almost simultaneous with Oriental cults until the emergence of Christianity (Šašel Kos, M., 1999, 78-80; Jurkić, V., 2005, 47, 55-56, 116-117; Jurkić, V., 2005a, 275-278).
4. Ancient deities between paganism and Christianity The historical and socio-political courses of events on the Istrian territory from the third to the fifth centuries, especially in the Pula ager, run under specific conditions owing to its peculiar geographical position in the North Adriatic basin. Inner dynastic conflicts which had already begun during Constantine the Great’s (280 – 337 AD) successors, and continued during Theodosius the Great, Honorius, Gala Placidia and Valentinianus III until the final decline of the Western Roman Empire, have only been aggravated by the recurrent destructive incursions and plundering of the barbaric tribes and the mutual intolerance between the pagans and the Christians during the fourth century.9 Istrian socio-economic, political and religious circumstances were mostly affected by and subjected to changes due to the incursions of the Western Goths under Alaric's leadership (403 AD) and the conquering invasion of Attila’s Huns in 452 AD when Aquileia was ravaged, devastated and burned to the ground (Marušić, B., 1967, 5). Christianity, whose rise coincides with the aforementioned turmoils and adversities, emerged as a strong religious, economic and political force nevertheless torn apart by inner conflicts, struggle against the Arians, Pelagians and threatened by constant persecutions. In this period, paganism, although shaken in its religious foundations, by means of various changes, persecutions, confiscations, plundering of temple treasuries, especially during Honorius and his successors, undergoes one last rise before its
Constantius II 337 – 361 AD), son of Constantine the Great, a thorough Arian, did not persecute the pagans and had appreciation for Roman antiquities; Julian the Apostate (361 – 363 AD), his successor, wanted to reestablish the glory of paganism and abolished the favors granted by the Edict of Milan. Unlike them, Gratianus (367 – 383 AD), son and successor to Valentinianus, did not exert religious tolerance and was the first of all the emperors to renounce the title of pontifex maximus, depriving in that way paganism of the official support of the state. Theodosius the Great was an ardent persecutor of pagans until his Edict in 392 AD. However, Eugenius (392 – 394 AD), defeated in the battle of Ajdovščina, reinstalled the big statue of the godess Victoria in the Senate, reestablishing the power and the force of paganism – Rutilius Namatianus and Zosim's works glorify paganism and its revival, and present the fall of Rome as a reprisal and punishment for showing disloyalty towards paganism. With the fall of Rome and Alaric's incursion paganism is reinstalled and on the rise in North Africa.
final decline (Labriole, de P., 1934; Balducci, C.A., 1935, 243 et seq.; Bonner, C., 1942, 171 et seq.; Bloch 1945, 199 et seq.; Demougeot, E., 1952, 83 et seq.;. Thompson, E.A., 1963; Thouvenot, S., 1964, 682; Dodds, E.R., 1970, 16 et seq.; Mazzolani, L.S., 1975, 5 et seq.). The last pagan champions were a few scattered owners of large estates, colonists, patricians and senators, some army leader or an emperor usurper (as for example Julian the Apostate, 361 – 363 AD; Eugenius 392 – 394 AD; Priscus Attalus 409 – 410 AD; Joannes 423 – 425 AD, killed by Gala Placidia, 425 – 455 AD; magistri militum Etius and Bonifatius during the rule of Valentinianus III, 425 – 455 AD). This turbulent late antique period reflected itself on Istria’s inhabitants and their habits of life. The fear of a new possible incursion and plunderings of barbaric tribes resulted in extension, reinforcement and completion of the Pula town walls, the annexations for the most part built of antique spolia, while the peripheral areas of the ager Polensis saw erection of the complete defensive system of guardhouses and fortified settlements (for example Bale (Vallis), Dvigrad (Duo Castra), Stari Gočan), castra (military camps) (Mons Parentinus near Dvigrad, Mutvoran) and towers (Klenovac, Straža) (Jurkić, V.-Džin, K., 207, 117-130). The stretch of land along the via Flavia connecting Pula and Trieste, saw erection of guardhouses and observation posts among which the most prominent was Sv. Lovreč Pazenatički, and the fortified towns of the Istrian west coast: Pula (Pola), Rovinj (Rovigium), Vrsar (Ursaria), Poreč (Parentium), Novigrad (Emonia), Umag (Humagum), Sipar (Siparis), Piran (Piranon), Koper (Capris) and Trieste (Tergeste). There is evidence of four fortified settlements to the northeast of Dvigrad: Pićan (Pedena), Motovun (Montona), Buzet (Pinguentum) and V. Čentur. This enclosed circle of strongholds was the basis of central Istria fortification system. To the east of Stari Gočan and Mutvoran there were also fortified towns encircled by walls (Labin (Albona) and Plomin (Flanona)), while Boljun and Kastav (Castra) where stretching on the north towards the border with Trsat ( Tarsatica) (Marušić, B., 1967, 5; Marušić, B., 1975, 343, 346, fig. 6; Jurkić, V., 2000, 9-20). The existence of all the aforementioned fortification points leads us to the conclusion that the Istrian peninsula had a closed system of numerous strongholds erected in the period between the third and the fifth centuries AD, covering its entire territory, each of them keeping its significance and being in function until the Middle Ages (Marušić, B., 1995, 9 et seq.). Nevertheless, beside erection of either isolated or mutually connected fortifications, the old Roman estate villas were gradually submitted to alterations of their original architectural
structure and purpose and were adapted to protection and fortified by walls. Also, close-built settlements have being built in their close proximity – being the actual prototypes of classical medieval villages. In spite of deep-rooted tradition of antique economy and the habits of life persisting until the sixth century, that is until the period of the Byzantine domination over the peninsula and the last instance of the post-antique economic, cultural and spiritual traditions flourishing, Istria begun to lose its rural and urban antique outlines, and, according to changes of political and social occurrences and the development of the colonization system, begun its gradual transformation into the medieval Istria. According to architectural and archaeological findings, the most obvious examples of the continued heritage of classical antiquity and the appearance of the new social and economic relations are evidenced by the Brijuni castrum (Mlakar, Š., 1956; Marušić, B., 1967, 6; Marušić, B., 1973, 68; Marušić, B., 1975, 338; Begović, V.-Schrank, I., 2006, 95104; Vitasović, A., 2007, 157-210). The same can be revealed in the following locations: the Vižula settlements near Medulin (Jurkić, V., 1980, 20 et seq.; Jurkić, V.-Džin, K., 2006a, 473487; Jurkić, V., 2007, 473-478), Barbariga around the so called Schwalb's villa and oil refinery (Schwalb, H., 1902; Gnirs, A., 1924, 147-148; Mlakar, Š., 1956, 25-26; Marušić, B., 1975, 340), near Šurida (Ujčić, Ž., 2007, 23-29), in the Peličeti estate (Džin, K., 2005a, 9-27; Džin, K., 2007, 120-134; Džin, K., 2006a), 5-15), Sorna (Marušić, B., 1975, 340; Jurkić, V., 1981a, 88-90; Matijašić, R., 1998, 91 et seq.), Červar Porat (Jurkić, V., 1978b, 263-298; Jurkić, V., 2005b, 29-51), Sipar (Marušić, B., 1962, 168; Jurkić, V., 1981a, 81-83) , Katoro (Silvestri, E., 1903, 428-434; Degrassi, A., 1962e, 821; Benedetti, A., 1973, 47; Marušić, B., 1975, 432; Matijašić, R., 1998, 293 et seq.). *** When we talk about the continuing existence of ancient cults in Istria as part of its spiritual culture in the run-up to the late antique period, it is a set of the last relics of pagan cults worship that we have in mind which have existed, in accordance with the established habits of life, on larger landed estates and latifundia through the fourth century until the Theodosius' edict of 392 AD. During the course of the fourth and the fifth centuries the Roman state saw alternating exchange of rulers which were adherents of pagan belief or supporters of the Christian creed, so, it is no wonder that the inhabitants of this specific area (which would be Istria) on the border between the Western Roman Empire and its provinces,
with the strong Roman tradition deep-rooted in material and spiritual culture, firmly held on to their belief in pagan deities. They continued to believe in Greek-Roman and OrientalRoman deities, Genii and Manae, local gods and demigods, but nevertheless were not objectinc publicly of the Christian thought and religious preaching. In the context of the complete socio-economic and political relations, freemen and colonists found that only the verified and reliable antique gods were capable of saving the Empire which, submitted to constant change of rulers, barbaric incursions and torn apart by inner dynastic struggles, social and religious antagonisms, was gradually fading away and losing its cohesive power. The continuing existence of the old autochthonous Illyrian spirit among the Romanized native inhabitants should by all means be considered through this aspect as the essential relationship, deeply rooted among the native inhabitants and the domesticated “histricized” and “liburnized” (i. e. adopting the habits of life of the native Histri and the Liburni) newcomers, which managed to resist and remain present in Istria despite Roman administrative measures and civilizational influences. People in Istria have embraced “foreign” beliefs but have also retained their own native ones and have even managed to impose them on Roman and Oriental newcomers. It was exactly such symbiosis of autochthonous beliefs and Roman cults which gave a firm underlying concept for a religious foundation which the advancing Christianity will find difficult to sublimate almost on the entire Istrian territory. Christianity, making its bloody entrance in Istria during the fourth century, gets its first martyrs, Germanus in Pula, Maurus and Eleuterius in Poreč, but generally finds it difficult to change and submit the pagan customs. The burial rites and the inventory of late antique graves until the fourth century are a telling indication of the parallel existence of paganism and Christianity in Istria during this period. Christianity established itself in Istria in the fifth century, which is witnessed by the establishment of the Pula and Poreč dioceses. However, the beginnings of Christianity in those Istrian towns and their wider areas (ager Polensis and ager Parentinus), are probably dating back to the fourth century which is suggested by the written legends about the aforementioned St. Germanus, the Christian martyr from Pula, and St. Maurus, the Christian martyr from Poreč, and the existing monuments of Early Christian architecture.10
On the beginnings of Christianity and St. Germanus the martyr see Marušić, B., 1967, 9; Marušić, B., 1978. On the beginnings of Christianity and the martyrdom of Maurus and Eleuterius, as also the data found in older bibliography, see Šonje, A., 1971.
The relatively late affirmation of Christianity in Istria was preceded by a century in which antique paganism persistently defended its acquired religious positions. Apart from sepulchral findings in the known necropolises of Pula, this is also witnessed by sepulchral monuments in the form of stone sarcophagi, ossuaries and built graves covered with slabs which, considering the known burial customs indicate a marked pagan characteristic (Matijašić, R., 1991b, 5 et seq.). Paganor, a suburb in the Veli Vrh area near Pula bears witness with its very name to have been a supposed pagan seat (Schiavuzzi, B., 1908, 91171), with pagan sarcophagi found in situ (Franceschi, de C., 1933, 35-48; Marušić, B., 1959, 49-58; Marušić, B., 1963, 258-260). Apart from the Pula necropolises the late antique graves of the ager Polensis have also been discovered on Brijuni, Vižanel, in Fažana, Lakuža, Betegenica near Peroj, Ovčjak near Marčana, Vižula near Medulin, Glavica near Šošići and Škicini near Juršići. The findings of the late antique graves on Istrian west coast were known from older bibliography (Sv. Ivan Kornetski to the south of Umag) (Degrassi, A., 1929, 401), while the latest archaeological excavations have discovered graves in Jurali near Rovinj, Glavica near Sošići, Krpinjan near Novigrad and Mulindrija near Poreč (Marušić, B., 1973, 63, note 3). In the continental part of Istria late antique graves have been registered in Kacavanac near Dvigrad (Marušić, B., 1970, 7-46). At that time Istria has been the battlefield of Licinius (308 – 324 AD) who attempted reconsolidation of paganism, which is witnessed by inscriptions from Pula Imp(eratori) C(a)esa(ri) Val(erio) Liciniano Licinio Pio Felicio invicto Aug(usto) res p(ublica) Pol(ensium) d(evota) n(umini) m(aiestati) (que) e(ius) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 45) and Poreč: Imp(eratori) [Caes(ari) V]alerio [Licini]ano [Licinio] Pio F(elici) Invicto Aug(usto), p(ontifici) m(aximo), trib(unicia) p(otestate) III, con(suli), p(atri) p(atriae), proco(nsuli) r(es) p(ublica Parentinor(um) d(e)v(ota) nu(mini) mai(estati) q(ue) aeius (Degrassi, A., 1934, no. 7), the finding of the Čenturska ostava moneta (Jeločnik, A., 1973, 1-224; Jeločnik, A.-Kos, P., 1983, 1-93) and various findings from the period of Constantius II (337 – 361 AD) from the Trogrla Cave near the village Majkusi not far from Šterna (Baćić, B., 1977, 151 et seq.), which are clear evidence of the perilous and unsteady social and military-political circumstances on Istrian territory. The consequences of these troubled times were reflected in art which was taking shape and was simplified not only in the conceptual interpretation and the stylized manner of an
artefact’s making but also in regards of the essential workmanship of the stone and bronze treatment. The arts of portrait and sculpture were then at their peak reflecting the mental life of the portrayed, his expression and understanding of the decadent world around him (Gerhe, F., 1973, 51). The main spiritual stimulus to Istrian inhabitants in their struggle to survive those hard and troubled times derived from their religion. Part of them embraced the Christian religion, while the other part held on to their old pagan beliefs imbued with dominating Oriental and syncretized cults. It was in this time of simplification of both content and form, of the spiritual apotheosis of the concept of rulers and of the world in general, that the late antique relief monuments of the Pula area were produced, like for example parts of a limestone parapet with the representation of Jupiter Amon (Jurkić, V., 2005, 144-147) 11 or a fragment of a keystone with the head of Acheloes12 (Jurkić, V., 1972a, 214, Pl. 6/1; Jurkić, V., 1974, 13, fig. 21; Jurkić, V., 2005, 223-224). Just like its monumental counterparts, the small sculptural works are also submitted to “barbarization” like for example the bronze figurine of the winged Victoria, the usual attendant of the imperial cult (Jurkić, V., 1974, 14, fig. 23; Jurkić, V., 2005, 191). Most votive monuments dedicated to native Illyrian deities were rustic and unrefined, in the conception and the execution of the monument in general as well as the way the inscription was carried out, compared to monuments to same gods from previous centuries. We can hardly talk about stone-dressing as a masterly craftsmanship; in that time in Istria there were only stonemason’s workshops of modest artisanal skill instead. The worship of Jupiter (Iuppiter) continued during the period of late antiquity, the god being mainly represented in relief on partition slabs and plinths as Jupiter Amon ( Iuppiter Amon) (Jurkić, V., 1972a, 211; Budischovsky, M., 1973). A votive altar from this period has been found in Štinjan, in the so called “Monumenti” area, near Pula, in the onetime Caius Iulius Chrysogonus's wool rolling mill. It was dedicated to Jupiter, and actually reads the following dedication to Jupiter Optimo Maximo: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) C(aius) Iulius Chrysogonus ex voto fecit (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 10; Doni, G.B., 1731, supplement, 556, no. 12; Kandler, P., 185, 164; Belloni, A., f.32; Smetius, M., 1588, 147, no. 23; Gruter,
It is believed that the four monolithic stone blocks belong to the monumental heritage of the town of Pula (Forum). Inventory no. A 16602, 18593, 18593a. 12 Inventory no. A 8724.
J., 1603, 15, no. 8; Muratori, I., 1739, 4, no. 6; Carli, G.B., 1794, 117; Gregorutti, C., 1877, 101; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 13) Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 204; Degrassi, A., 1970, 622; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 211, note 20b; Jurkić, V., 1974, 7, note 22b; Jurkić, V., 2005, 139). There is another altar from Pula from the same period with a dedication to the same Jupiter Optimo Maximo which reads: I[(ovi]) O(ptimo) M(aximo) Papirius Andronicus v(otum) l(ibens) s(olvit) con suis (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 11; Luciani, T., no. 6; Gregorutti, C., 1876, 106; Mommsen, Th., 1972-1877, no. 8131; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 187; Sticotti, P., 1908, 228; Degrassi, A., 1970, 622; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 211, note 20c; Jurkić, V., 1974, 7, note 22c; Jurkić, V., 2005, 139). According to the form of the inscription and the execution of letters both of them are probably dating from the third century. An inscription dedicated to Oriental Jupiter Depulsor (Iuppiter Depulsor), from the central hill of Pula dates from the late third or early fourth centuries (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1946, no. 12; Mirabella Roberti, M., 1939, 277; Degrassi, A., 1970, 622-623; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 211, note 22; Jurkić, V., 1973, 7, note 24), while a votive altar found on the island of Veli Brijun was dedicated to Jupiter Augustus (Iuppiter Augustus), bearing the inscription Iovi Au[g(usto) sacrum Aurelius [I]ulianus posuit (Šašel, J.-Marušić, B., 1984, 36; Jurkić, V., 2005, 141). The cult of Jupiter has also been worshipped in the Parentine ager which is witnessed by the altar dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus Aeternus ( Iuppiter Optimus Maximus Aeternus), with marked elements of Oriental (Syrian) origin: [I]ovi opt[im]o maxi[m]o aete[rn]o Augu[sto Lu]cretiu[s Vic?]tor ex [vot]o posu[it] (Degrassi, A., 1934, no. 192; Kandler, P., Cod. Epig. Parentium, folio 13; Sticotti, P., 1908, 229; Pogatschnig, A., 1910, 16; Degrassi, A., 1970, 623-624; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 221, note 20e; Jurkić, V., 1974, 7.8, note 22e; Jurkić, V., 2005, 142). This monument has been found among the ruins of the small church of St. Peter on Sorna near Molindri, the word aeternus suggesting Jupiter's eternal life from the earliest antiquity almost to the early Middle Ages, while in the following centuries, used in holy inscriptions, the word acquired a totally different meaning. There was an inscription found in Buzet, unfortunately lost, but recorded by Pietro Kandler in Roč: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) Oppius Severianus v(otum) s(olvit) (Degrassi, A., 1936, no. 123; Kandler, P., c, folio 32; Mommsen, Th., 1972-1977, no. 427; Sticotti, P., 229, note 1; Degrassi, A., 1970, 622; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 211, note 20d; Jurkić, V., 1974, note 22d; Jurkić, V., 2005, 143) . The theory is that this votive altar was erected in the mid-third century also.
The Roman Jupiter has been worshipped during the first and the second centuries AD as evidenced by inscriptions, while on votive inscriptions from the third and the fourth centuries he was referred to as depulsor, conservator and aeternus; the conclusion is that this supreme Roman deity has been worshipped in Istria in its pure Roman form in the first two centuries AD, its cult spreading through Roman conquests of Istria, while the next two centuries saw the cult acquiring Oriental elements and the deity worshipped by the name of depulsor and conservator. In that way Jupiter preserved both his political and religious significance and his status in the pagan religious system until its very end, on Istrian western coast and in central Istria alike (Jurkić, V., 2005, 116-118). From the third century on Minerva’s cult did not manifest itself in its pure form; it appeared in its syncretized form as Minerva Flanatica. Such syncretized form implied symbiosis between the Roman Minerva and an autochthonous deity identified with Minerva which has been worshipped by the Histric tribe of Flanates as protecting goddess of various arts and crafts (RFC, n.c., 10, 1932, 87; AMSI, 43, 1931, 381; Degrassi, A., 1962d, 875; Degrassi, A., 1970, 625; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160-161; Jurkić, V., 1983, 14, fig. 25; Jurkić, V., 2005, 153-154). The inscription on the altar reads as follows: [M]inervae [F]lanaticae [sa]crum […]dius Bassus [ex] v(oto) quot a dea pe[tit] consecutus (Degrassi, A.,m 1934, no. 194). Since this votive altar has been found west to the village of Monsaleš near Poreč, among the ruins of some old architecture erected in the first century BC and standing until the fifth century AD approximately, this leads us to the conclusion that this syncretized Minerva's cult had merged with the autochthonous belief to be accepted by the inhabitants and ended only by the rise of Christianity. Venus is in Istria registered only in its Oriental form as Venus Caelestis. An inscription dedicated to the goddess reading Veneri Caelesti La[ecania] (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 24) on a lintel in accurately cut Roman capitals (Gregorutti, C., 1876, 107; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8137; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 187; Gnirs, A., 1904, 226 et seq.; Degrassi, A., 1970, 629; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 212, note 38; Jurkić, V., 1874, 1-11, note 46; Jurkić, V., 2005, 157-158) was discovered among the ruins of the walls once stretching along the coast of Pula, and differs from the one on the votive altar. The oath to the goddess on the altar was written in roughly shaped letters which vary considerably in their individual proportions and shape, with a rustic conception of the inscription surface and the monument in general, so that it was probably made somewhere between the late first and the early third
centuries. This is also suggested by the inscription which reads Veneri Caelesti Acutinus cun suis pos(uit) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 25; Luciani, T., no. 4; Gregorutti, C., 1876, 105; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8138; Degrassi, AS., 1970, 629, note 165; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 212, note 37; Jurkić, V., 1974, 10.11, note 45; Jurkić, V., 2005, 158) . Worship of the Venus’ cult of a somewhat later date was registered in the Jesenovik area in the Raša River valley. A votive altar was dedicated to the syncretized Roman-Illyrian deity named Iria Venus. The text was carved out in projecting characters, reading: Iri(a)e Veneri C(ai) Vale(rii) Optati f(ilia) Felicula v(otum) l(ibens) m(erito) (Degrassi, A., 1936, no. 197; Kandler, P., 1943-1844, 56; Kandler, P., 1946, 12; Kandler, P., 185, 487; Kandler, P., a, folio 4; Kenner, F., 1867, 214; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 3033; Roscher, W., 1884, 319; Ruggero, de H., 1922, 85; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 213; Jurkić, V., 1974, 11, note 47; Jurkić, V., 1981, 160; Jurkić, V., 1983, 14; Jurkić, V., 2005, 128). This was a case of reverence of the Illyrian deity Iria which in all probability already had or had just acquired the same iconographic features pertaining to the Roman Venus. The votive inscription was found in an antique locality which has been serving its purpose until late antiquity. St. Andrew's Church has been erected within the ruins of the former complex. The late antique cult of Mithras of Oriental origins which took root in Istria as well as other parts of the Roman Empire should be mentioned by all means. Considering the geographically limited area of the peninsula, the great number of monuments dedicated to this deity found in Istria is by all means testifying to its great popularity. The phenomenon of reverence for Mithras’ cult is probably a result of military activities, constant fluctuation of people in the Istrian littoral and permanent mercantile and maritime connections with Aquileia, the capital of the Tenth Italic Region. The worship of Mithras’ cult has been substantiated by the existence of seven monuments. One votive altar from Pula dedicated to D(eo) M(ithrae) S(oli) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 16) was found on the southeastern slope of the central town hill (Kandler, P., folios 39, 57; Kandler, P., 1885, supplement, 700; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 263; Degrassi, A., 1970, 626; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 214, note 47; Jurkić, V., 1974, 13-14, note 57; Jurkić, V., 2005, 211) not far from the supposed Mithras’ spelaeum in which a fragment with a representation of Tauroctony has been found (Sticotti, P., 1908, 232; Gnirs, A., 1915, 68, no. 36; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 214; Jurkić, V., 1974, 13-14; Jurkić, V., 2005, 210). The Oriental cult of Mithras established itself in Rome in the period of the decline of the Republic; it arrived at
Rome with the return of legions from the East bringing along a large number of slaves, many of them worshipping Mithras. This resulted in quick expansion of the creed in all regions of Imperial Rome. The cult flourished in the second half of the third century when it had reached almost every province of the Empire. Mithras’ spelaeum could have been established in the second century, as testified by the date carved on the slab (Reichel, G., 1893, 6; Cumont, F., 1896, 269, no. 118; Zotović, LJ., 1973, 60, no. 68) which lacks representations of Cautes and Cautopates, the two divine attendants of Mithras, while the votive altar is probably from the third century. The existence of such an altar is in itself an indication of worship of Mithraic cult in Pula. The second Mithraic monument from the third century was found in the vestibule of the villa of Caius Iulius Chrisogonus’s wool rolling mill near Štinjan (an area known by the name “Monumenti”, near Pula), bearing the votive inscription which reads D(eo) M(ithrae) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 594; Gregorutti, C., 1876, 98; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8132; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 203; Cumont, F., 1896, 124, no. 179; Sticotti, P., 1908, 231; Degrassi, A., 1970, 626-627; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 214, note 48; Jurkić, V., 1974, 13, note 58) . A very curious altar, probably dedicated to Mithras, has been found in Mutvoran, under the cathedral's altar (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 658). It is by all means of a later date, rather hard-to-come-by, and probably transferred to the Mutvoran's cathedral from the Nesactium area.13 One votive altar was also found in the Parentine area, in the Zub Cove (Val del Dente) near Vabriga, in 1887 or 1888, dedicated to both emperors Filips, the father and the son. According to A. Degrassi the rather long inscription reads as follows: D(eo) s(ancto) i(nvicto) M(ithrae) pro salute et victoria s(anstissimorum) d(ominorum) n(ostrorum) Philippor[um Aug(ustorum)] et Otaciliae Sever(a)e Aug(ustae) Charitinus l(ibertus) s(ub)proc(urator et Sabianus l(ibertus adiut(or) tab(ulariorum) d(evoti) n(umini) m(aiestati) q(ue) e(orum) (Degrassi, A., 1934, 216). The inscription testifies to its origin from the period between 244 and 249 (Gregorutti, C., 1888, 449; Vaglieri, D., 1890, 20; Münsterberg, R.-Patsch, C., 1982, 50; Cumont, F., 1896, 124, no. 178; Degrassi, A., 1970, 626.627; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 214; Jurkić, V., 1974, 13; Jurkić, V., 2005, 209). According to A. Šonje, the area of the Tar Valley
Th. Mommsen (CIL, V, 2) sets the votive text in Diocletianus and Maximianus' time by comparing it with similar inscription (CIL, III, 720). Although some scholars assign it to a group of Mithraic dedications, it was impossible to authenticate the text due to its not being available, and so establish the facts necessary for the appropriate interpretation.
was the finding place of yet another fragment of a monument dedicated to Mithras, which leads us to the conclusion that a Mithraeum was once in all probability located in the Valetta area, near Vabriga.14 It is interesting to point out that no evidence was found which would substantiate the existence of worship of the Mithraic cult in the continental part of the northern Istria, which was probably due to the diffusion of the newly settled inhabitants. There is evidence of the Mithraic cult in Duino near Trieste though, which makes it impossible to avoid that the process of Romanization and the diffusion of Oriental influences through the army and colonization of the veterans were much more intense in the coastal area, around the towns of Pula, Poreč, Trieste and Aquileia and less intense in the continental part of the peninsula. All the discovered and registered monuments of the Mithraic cult date from the third and the early fourth centuries. The cult of Sol, often brought in connection and identified with the Mithraic cult, was evidenced in Pula, as was mentioned before (Sticotti, P., 1908, 232; Cumont, F., 1896, 208, 519; Jurkić, V., 2005, 193-194) that can be evidenced by findings in the North Adriatic basin and its hinterland. The most peculiar sites are Aquileia with one speleum cum omni apparatu (CIMRM, no. 747; Budischovsky, M.C., 1977, 102) and, further north, in Trento, along the via Claudia a mithraeum with an inscription dedicated to Mithras and Sol (CIMRM, no. 732 i 734; Budischovsky, M.C., 1977, 112). Verona knows Deus Magnus Aeternus and Sol (CIL, V, 3221; CIMRM, no. 702). All this needs mention because the finding from Pula also shows traits of merging of the two cults, those of Mithras and Sol, evidenced by the inscription which reads Deo M(itrae) S(oli) (Kandler, P., folios 39,57; Kandler, P., 1855, supplement, 700; Mommsen, Th., 1972-1977, no. 263; Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 16; Degrassi, A., 1970, 626; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 214, note 47; Jurkić, V., 1974, 13-14, note 57), what is more there is a fragment of a relief depicting Mithras wearing a short chiton. Apart from the Oriental Mithraic cult, Istria is the place of worship of yet another cult in the third and the fourth centuries, namely the cult of the Great Mother ( Magna Mater), with its roots dating back to the protohistoric period. The plinth of the statue of Quintus Mursius Minervianus from Pula with the sepulchral slab related to the cult of the Great Mother
I am deeply grateful to A. Šonje, the then manager of the Zavičajni muzej Poreštine (Poreč Region Local History Museum) , on this information, but I have not managed to substantiate the existence of such monument since then.
mentioning the collegium of the dendrophoroi (the “tree-bearers”) (Orti, C.I.H., 1837, 10; Kandler, P., 1855, 251; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 81; Dessau, H., 1892.1916, no. 4172; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 202, no. 90; Sticotti, P., 1908, 290, note 3; Gnirs, A., 1915, 75, no. 105; Swoboda, R.M., 1969, 205, no. 16; Degrassi, A., 1970, 625; Jurkić, V., 1974, 48-49, 56; Jurkić, V., 1975, 289; Vermaseren, M.J., 1978, no. 247; Jurkić, V., 2005, 211-212). The monument, dug from the foundations of a building not far from the Temple of Augustus, was erected during the reign of Septimius Sever (193 – 211 AD). The inscription reads: Dendrophoris Polensium C(aius) Laecanius Theodorus sacer[d]os M(atris) D(eorum) M(agnae) I(daeae) lo[cu]m cum sepultura dedit in fr(onte) p(edes XLII in ag(ro) p(edes) LX [II?] (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 155). The recent findings of the stone statue of Attis (Jurkić, V., 1972, 49.50; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 212; Jurkić, V., 1974, 10; Jurkić, V., 1975, 291. note 30; Jurkić, V., 1978, 175-188; Jurkić, V., 2006, 213-215) and the head of Attis (Swoboda, R.M., 1969, 203f, no. 13, fig. 4; Jurkić, V., 1972, 45-46 57, Pl. 3/1; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 212, Pl. 1/2; Jurkić, V., 1974, 10, Pl. 2/6; Jurkić, V., 1975, 287, fig. 2; Vermaseren, M.J., 1978, 98, no. 245; Jurkić, V., 2005, 215-216) found in the Vidikovac area in Pula are dating from the late phase of Antonine art, at the run-up of the second and the third centuries. The votive altar from Jesenovik dedicated to Matri Magnae deorum (Degrassi, A., 1933, 381= Degrassi, A., 1962, 887-889; Degrassi, A., 1936, no. 198; Swoboda, R.M., 1969, 207, no. 19; Degrassi, A., 1970, 625; Jurkić, V., 1972a, note 30b; Jurkić, V., 1972, 67, Pl. VIII; Jurkić, V., 1¸974, 7-33, note 36 b; Jurkić, V., 1975, 296, fig. 4; Vermaseren, M.J., 1978, 100, no. 250; Jurkić, V., 2005, 212.), according to its shape and the execution of the letters of the inscription in all probability dates from the third or early fourth centuries, especially taking into account the so called continental retardation. A votive plaque to Iria Venus was dedicated by the same Felicula, so this leads us to the conclusion that both cults have existed continuously in this part of Istria from the late third and the early fourth centuries. The cult of Nemesis, the goddess of fate, worshipped in Istria in the period between the first and the fourth centuries AD is witnessed by the several known votive monuments. Apart from the preserved inscriptions from earlier periods, we should focus only on those votive inscriptions to the goddess dating from the third and the early fourth centuries. One of them is the altar found in the Pula amphitheatre in 1921, near the main entrance ( porta principalis). The inscription executed in roughly shaped letters varying considerably in their individual proportions and shape, reads as follows: Nemesi Aug(ustae) sac(rum) C(aius) Laecanius Vitalis qui et Serpulius libe[ns] posu[it] (Forlati Tamaro, b., 1947, no. 20;
Stanković, P., 1922, Pl. 6, note 7; Kandler, P., 1943-1944, folio 56; Kandler, P., 1855, 165; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1977, no. 17; Sticotti, P., 1908, 241; Degrassi, A., 1970, 267; Jurkić, V., 2006, 207). An oath to Nemesis can also be found on a votive monument from the aforementioned Caius Iulius Chrysogonus’ wool rolling mill, which dates from the third century (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 595; Gregorutti, C., 1876, 99; Mommsen, Th., 19721977, no. 8135; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 3747a; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 203; Sticotti, P., 1908, 241; Degrassi, A., 1970, 627; Jurkić, V., 2005, 207-208). A very rustic votive altar dedicated to Nemesis has been excavated in the village of Sv. Petar od Drage in the Dragonja River valley at the end of the nineteenth century. P. Sticotti recorded the inscription which reads Nem[e]si Aug(ustae) sac(rum) Qui[ntus] ser(vus) L(uci) [Ia]nici Protocteti [v(otum)] s(olvit) l(ibens) (Degrassi, A., 1936, no. 35; Sticotti, P., 1908, 240; Degrassi, A., 1970, 627, Jurkić, V., 2005, 208). This altar also belongs to the group of votive monuments which can be dated in the run-up to the fourth century. The worship of Silvanus in Istria, the Italic Silvanus in particular, has already been substantiated by numerous votive altars and inscriptions. The cult of Silvanus has been worshipped in the whole peninsula, encompassing the area from Koper to Rovinj on the western coast and the area from Čepić to Nesactium on the eastern Istrian coast. The reverence for Silvanus’ cult probably dates from the first and the second centuries AD, only two monuments being erected in the third century. One was found in the Labin area (Marcilinica). The votive altar of small dimensions dedicated to Silvanus by a Caius Vibius Fesius was found in 1965 (Oreb, F., 1967, 40; Šašel, A.and J., 1986, no. 2911; Jurkić, V., 2005, 173). The other one was found in Crisogonus' fullonica and bears the inscription which reads: Daeo santo Silvano sacrum C(aius) Iulius Crysogonus v(otum) s(olvit) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 596; Gregorutti, C,m 1876, 98; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8136; Dessau, H., 1892-1916, no. 3747b; Weisshäupl, R., 1901, 203; Sticotti, P., 1908, 321, no. 3; Degrassi, A., 1970, 628; Jurkić, V., 1972,a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6.7, note 16a; Jurkić, V., 2005, 170). Although Silvanus’ cult is held to be of Illyrian origins, its worship has been widespread for many centuries on the whole area of the Tenth Italic Region from Pula to Aquileia, while in the third and fourth centuries it has been even brought in connection with the Mithraic cult. Therefore, reverence for Silvanus as the divine protector of fertility, pastures, vineyards and forests, distinctive features of the Italic Silvanus, did not die away in late antique, because the intense agricultural activity supported preservation of its cult and of the appropriate festivities.
The worship of the autochthonous Illyrian cult of Eia existed in Nesactium until the third century. A rustic votive altar has been preserved, bearing the following inscription: Ei(a)e Aug(ustae) sac(rum) Brissinius Ier[---] v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 659; Kandler, P., 1855, separate folio 252; Burton, R.F.-Scampicchio, A., 1880, 23; Weisshäupl, R., 1895, 18 et seq.; Puschi, C., 1905, 292; Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1974, 5-6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 151; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8, fig. 11). There is yet another altar from Nesactium dedicated to Eia: Eiae Aug(ustae) L(ucius) Torius Stephanus v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 660; Puschi, A., 1905, 291; Gnirs, A., 1915, 161.182, no. 445, fig. 116; Forlati Tamaro, B., 1930, 7, fig. 2; Degrassi, A., 1970, 616; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 209-210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 5; Jurkić, V., 1981, 151, fig. 3, note 8; Jurkić, V., 1983, 8; Jurkić, V., 2005, 122). It is interesting to note that the dedicant was a colonist of Oriental origins who by dedicating the altar displayed his acceptance of the native deep-rooted beliefs and entrusted the autochthonous goddess, having her own centuries-old tradition, with the protection of his private pursuits. The find of the three votive altars of the only male autochthonous deity Melosocus in the Krnica area, northwest from Nesactium, deserves special mention. Two of them have been found among the ruins of St. Theodore's Church, while the third one, with the Greek inscription, was found in the Golubičina karst pit in 1999. The first one, the most preserved of them all, very rustic in shape and its overall execution, bears the following dedication in roughly shaped letters: Numini Melosoco Aug(usto) sacrum Cn(aeus) [P]apiriu[s] Eumelu[s] ex voto (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 661; Franceschi, de C., 1866, no. 13; Kandler, P., 103, 105, 106; Buttazzoni, C., 1870, 18; Buttazzoni, C., 1888, 459; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 8127; Weisshäupl, R., 1895, 20; Schiavuzzi, B., 1908, 92; Sticotti, P., 1908, 225; Degrassi, A., 1970, 617; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 162163, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1983, 15, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1985, 279; Jurkić, V., 2005, 128) . The other fragmentary inscription only makes mention of the divinity: Melosoco[---] Aug (usti) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 662; Schiavuzzi, B., 1908, 92; Sticotti, P., 1908, 223; Degrassi, A., 1970, 617; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1970, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 162-163, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1983, 15, fig. 26; Jurkić, V., 1985, 279; Jurkić, V., 2005, 129), while a small classical votive inscription accurately cut in symmetrical Greek letters reads Theo Melisoco Silouester apodus thusian (Matijašić, R., 2000, 44.50; Matijašić, R., 2000a, 8-9; Jurkić, V., 2005, 130). The theory is that these were the altars of a smaller sanctuary of local significance remote from the powerful religious centres like Nesactium, Pola and Parentium and therefore
undisturbed by military, political and religious turmoils in the period between the first and the early fourth centuries. We learned about the cult of the goddess Terra Histria from the votive inscriptions found in Nesactium and the wider Rovinj and Poreč areas, her worship centres during the first two centuries AD. However, in 1847 not far from the Twin Gates in Pula, a votive altar to Istria was found bearing the inscription executed in large letters varying in proportions and shape: Aeflania Isias Istr[i]ae v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (Forlati Tamaro, B., 1947, no. 7; Kandler, P., 1843.1844, folio 81; Gregorutti, C., 1847, no. 63-64, 261; Kandler, P., 1855, 167; Arneth, J., 1850,. 296; Mommsen, Th., 1872-1877, no. 101; Maionica, H., 1879, 44; Degrassi, A., 1970, 619; Jurkić, V., 1972a, 210; Jurkić, V., 1974, 6; Jurkić, V., 1981, 153; Jurkić, V., 1983, 9-10; Jurkić, V., 2005, 127) which indicates that this autochthonous goddess has been dedicated a votive oath in the third or the fourth centuries, the time of decline of the pagan religion, when predominance of official Roman cults in their pure form would have been expected. It was B. Forlati Tamaro who first pointed out the form in which it appears, especially the name of the goddess lacking the letter H, the form Histria being characteristic of earlier periods. The existence of the inscription with the goddess’s modified name indicates indisputable continuing existence of her cult from primeval times to the very beginnings of the late antique period. It would be appropriate to conclude with some of the theories suggested already by P. Kandler and B. Schiavuzzi (Schiavuzzi, B., 1908, 91-171) which give us the possibility to develop a theory of a continuing existence of consecrated pagan sanctuaries as the first cultic centres of early Christianity. Such is the site of St. Felicitas, later known as San Giovanni e Felicita in Velo Polje near Pula. P. Kandler mentions Felicitas meaning tempio alla Felicita, i. e. Fortuna's temple or a shrine whose whereabouts, unfortunately, have not yet been revealed by systematic research and excavations. We may also talk about the continued pagan sacred locations when we have in mind that the basilica of St. Maria Formosa has been erected on the place of the former Minerva’s Temple in the insula Minervae in Pula (Marušić, B., 1967, 52) or St. Thomas’s Church erected on the location of the former Jupiter’s Temple (Calza, G., 1920, 53; Vučina Obad, M., 2007, 23). ***
It was not an easy task trying to give an accurate outline of the religion of the Roman Istria inhabitants and their beliefs at the end of the antique world opened towards and imbued with the all-embracing influences of both material and spiritual cultures. However, it was necessary to try to establish the aspects of continued existence of the old autochthonous Illyrian spirit among the native residents and the newly-settled inhabitants, which remained present and survived despite the Roman administrative measures and civilizational and cultural influences. Roman official cults coexisted in symbiosis with native autochthonous beliefs, resulting in a very vigorous religious basis that was offering resistance to the attempts of sublimation imposed by the advancing Christianity. The monotheistic Christianity gradually spreads over the whole Istrian territory during the fourth and the fifth centuries, leaving behind its martyrs as a sort of memento: Germanus in Pula 15, Maurus and Eleuterius in Poreč16, but is actually making a very slow entrance, managing to change the pagan customs and their spiritual inspirations at a very slow pace. Burial rites and the late antique graves inventories until the 460 AD are a telling indication of the almost parallel existence of paganism and Christianity during the fifth century.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ACRS ACS AEM AÖG AN ANRW
Atti, Centro di ricerche storiche, Rovinj – Trieste Atti del Centro studi e documentazione dell'Italia Romana Archäologisch-epigraphische Mittheilungen aus Österreich – Ungarn, I – XX (1870 – 1898), Wien Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, Wien Aquileia Nostra, Rivista dell'Associazione nazionale per Aquileia, Aquileia Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, New York – Berlin
Germanus' martyrdom took place in the Pula amphitheatre in the time of the first persecutions of Christians during the emperor Aurelius Numerianus (283 – 284 AD). 16 Maurus was killed in the early persecutions during the emperors Decius (249 – 251 AD) or Valerianus (253 – 260 AD), while Eleuterius perished in Diocletianus' persecutions (284 – 305 D).
AMSI ARAL AT ATTI NSc AV BDF BonnJb BPI BullInst CIL DKAW EP HA HAnq HTR IHAD I.I. IM JÖAI JVAR JZ JZK KAMI KPSI MCC MG MK MPDI MTADJ ObHAD PZ RFC RP Situla SP SVA VAHP VMKH ZIHNZ
Atti e memorie della Società istriana di archeologia e storia Patria, Parenzo – Venezia – Trieste Atti della R. Accademia dei Lincei, Roma Archeografo Triestino, Trieste Atti dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, Roma Arheološki Vestnik, Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, Ljubljana Bulletino della Deputazione fiumana di Storia Patria, Fiume. Bonner Jahrbuch Bullettino di palentologia italiana, Roma Bullettino dell'Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum auxilio et auctoritate Academiae Litterarum regiae Borussicae editum, Berlin 1872 – 1877. Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, philosophischen-historische Klasse, Wien Epigraphica Histria archaeologica, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula Histria antiqua, Međunarodni istraživački centar za arheologiju Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Pula Harward Theological Review, Harward Izdanja, Hrvatsko arheološko društvo, Zagreb Inscriptiones Italiae, volumen X, regio X, fasc. I. – Pola et Nesactium, Roma 1947; fasc. II. – Parentium, Roma 1934; fasc. III – Histria septemtrionalis, Roma 1936; fasc. IV – Tergeste, Roma 1951. Istarski mozaik, Pula Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologisches Instituts, I – XXXI (1898 – 1939), Wien Jahrbücher des Vereins von Alterthumsfreunden in Rheinlande Jadranski zbornik, Povijesno društvo Istre i Rijeke, Rijeka – Pula Jahrbuch der k. k. Zentral-Kommission für Erforschung und Erhaltung der Kunst und histor. Denkmale, I – IV (1903 – 1906), Wien Katalog, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula Kulturno-povijesni spomenici Istre, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula Mitteilungen der k. k. Central-Commission, II. ser., I – XXVIII, Wien 1875 – 1902; III. ser., I – XVI, Wien 1902 – 1918. Godišnjak muzealaca i galerista Istre, Pula Monografije i katalozi, Arheološki muzej Istre, Pula Materijali, Povijesno društvo Istre, Pula Materijali, Arheološko društvo Jugoslavije, Beograd Obavijesti, Hrvatsko arheološko društvo, Zagreb Prilozi o zavičaju, Čakavski sabor, Pula Rivista di filologia classica Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, Roma Razprave Narodnega muzeja v Ljubljani, Ljubljana Starohrvatska prosvjeta, Split Scritti vari di Antichità, Trieste Vjesnik za arheologiju i povijest dalmatinsku, Arheološki muzej, Split Vijesti muzealaca i konzervatora Hrvatske, Društvo muzealaca i konzervatora Hrvatske, Zagreb Zbornik Instituta za historijske nauke, Zadar
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